2005 Letters to the Editor

December, 2005
Thanks for 'Giving Together' campaign

Family Services would like to thank ParentMap for the support shown over the past year through its "Giving Together" campaign. What a privilege it's been to share stories of our clients' successes and to illustrate some of the many ways our agency actively supports families here in King County.

Many thanks also to the generous readers of ParentMap who have supported us by donating time, money and goods as a result of reading about us. Given ParentMap's mission of providing parents with valuable resources and Family Services' mission of building self-sufficient families, the partnership and generosity seem natural. We share the goal of helping families respond positively to the challenges they face and a shared recognition of the importance of the family in society.

Just as many of the social issues that threaten families today are complicated, so too are the ways Family Services responds to need in our community. We address issues with a therapeutic depth that enables our clients to make long-lasting, positive changes; often this approach requires that several of our programs be involved.

Whether providing critical support for families in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence and mental health counseling, our mission is to help families achieve or regain their self-sufficiency. This commitment to families is the common thread that runs through our programs, whether providing specialized childcare for homeless kids, teaching new mothers the basics of attachment and bonding with their children, or helping at-risk families avoid eviction. Last year we touched the lives of more than 10,000 local residents across all socio-economic levels of our community, helping to create long-lasting solutions.

Family Services has been helping families here in the Puget Sound area regain their independence for more than 113 years, and we're here today when families find themselves in tough times. Learn more at www.family-services.org.

Ruthann Howell
Family Services CEO/President 

September, 2005
Adoption story missing important resource

We were pleased to see ParentMap's August feature about adoption , but also very disappointed that the accompanying list of adoption resources didn't include World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP).

WACAP has been finding homes for kids since 1976, and we've placed over 8,000 children across the country. We are the largest adoption agency in Seattle, and around half our kids are adopted by Northwest families. In addition to being the local experts on adoptions from China, India, Korea, Russia, Thailand and the United States, we're well known internationally for our humanitarian aid programs for the children left behind.

Adoption isn't just for those who can't conceive. It's for couples and singles who care about kids and who know that an adoptive family is the ultimate gift to a child. More importantly, it's for children who either have lost their parents or can't live with them because of poverty or other circumstances. We believe it's important to bring your readers' attention to the needs of hundreds of thousands of kids worldwide who go to bed without a parent's hug. Please, next time, include WACAP in your list of adoption resources!

Kristine Leander
World Association for Children & Parents (WACAP) www.wacap.org

September, 2005
All views should be represented

This note is in response to the letter written to the editor by Donna Stefanik, in the July 2005 issue, about a Focus on the Family advertisement appearing in ParentMap.

ParentMap is a magazine that is not discriminating and is written for the readers, which may or may not include those who support the Focus on the Family beliefs. While I do not always agree with the teachings of Dr. Dobson, I know many parents do. I would find it more disturbing if organizations like this were not allowed to advertise in ParentMap. While I am not aware of all the programs that Focus on the Family support, I do know that they are looking to offer services and information that support many Christian values in the family. There are a number of organizations supporting many different beliefs that are welcome to advertise, and it would be wrong to prohibit this particular group from advertising as well.

It seems very harsh to say one group is divisive, frightening or that they are "making claims" to be able to do something. We may not all agree on how to raise a family and we may have different moral values, but it is not right to ridicule what others believe. Other readers may feel very strongly in support of some of the programs being criticized. As to the issue of the timing of the conference; whether or not Love One Out met the same weekend as gay pride events is irrelevant and should not concern the advertising department of ParentMap. If ParentMap chose not to print the Focus on the Family advertisement because of that reason, then they would be practicing the same discrimination that Donna Stefanik has chosen to criticize. Let us all make an effort to remember that even when we do not agree with a particular point of view, we can still have an open dialogue about those differences. I do not want my children to be ignorant about the way others believe.

Sara Kruse,

September, 2005
Table tennis, anyone?

In response to "Making Exercise Fun," July 2005, imagine having Tiger Woods in our own backyard offering golf classes and camps to Seattle area families. We don't have Tiger, but we do have YiYong Fan, the top-rated table tennis player in the US! He's just opened the Washington Table Tennis Center in north Bellevue (http://dnn.yiyongfan.com/), where he offers summer camps, group and individual lessons, open play and leagues. My 9-year old son is taking his third week of camp and has become a table tennis enthusiast. He comes home exhausted each day, but exhilarated by a sport that requires both a fit mind and a fit body. YiYong is wonderful with children. In fact, all the adults at the center seem to take a special interest in children, offering them tips or just the opportunity to play with a more experienced player. Table tennis is a great option for families looking for ways to play together and keep their children fit.

Sarah Kelvin Hopkins,

August, 2005
Traditional families need support, too

I want to applaud ParentMap for printing different types of ads, including those that represent traditional family values.

I was disturbed after reading the letter printed in the July edition, urging ParentMap to stop printing "extreme" rightest ads. Although I am not familiar with James Dobson or Focus on the Family, I don't believe that all of their viewpoints as presented in the letter are "extreme right-wing conservative." I think that many, if not most, Americans believe in the traditional family and would find an ad with a picture of a traditional family around the dinner table refreshing and encouraging. In fact, I believe that most Americans are striving to be that family.

The author of July's letter was distressed because ParentMap printed an ad for Focus on the Family, an organization that is (according to that author) not tolerant of gays, non-traditional sex education, etc. To that author, I would say that if you are trying to promote tolerance, then perhaps you should not feel threatened by views that differ from your own and likewise, you should support ParentMap in printing ads representing different viewpoints.

Thank you for an innovative and encouraging magazine.

Julie Schonlau,

July, 2005
Focus on Family ad distressing

I noticed with some distress that your June 2005 issue carried an ad from the extreme right-wing conservative group, Focus on the Family. I realize your magazine needs ads to survive, but I am sorry to see that you felt the need to accept this particular ad, from such a divisive organization.

Focus on the Family promotes, among other things, an anti-gay agenda. In fact, founder James Dobson was a keynote speaker at last year's conservative "Mayday for Marriage" rally at Safeco Field. Dobson's program "Love Won Out," which claims to convert gays into heterosexuals, will be in town, purposely dovetailing with the various gay-pride events the same weekend.

Additionally, Focus on the Family supports abstinence-only sex education, to the point that it has opposed legislation requiring medically correct sex ed. It is against multicultural education, as well as the UN position on children's rights. Dobson's rigid position on child-rearing is very frightening. His "advice trusted by millions of moms" (quote from the ad in your magazine) includes the notion that even very young babies are manipulative beings seeking to control their mothers and letting them cry and/or spanking are possible solutions. I have always picked up your magazine when I find it in my local stores or community buildings; and had been considering contributing a freelance article, but I cannot bring myself to do so with the inclusion of the ad in ParentMap's latest edition.

Donna Stefanik,

July, 2005
Clarification on living wills

I just read the article on spending, saving and debt (Ages and Stages, June 2005) in the recent issue of ParentMap. While most of the information was excellent, there was some misinformation in the section on Ages 0 to 2. The article suggests that preparing a will is especially important when you become a parent (true) but then goes on to say that when one is being admitted to a hospital, you will be asked if you have a will (not true) and that you should provide the hospital with a copy (definitely not true).

The author seems to be confused about the difference between a will, a living will and a power of attorney. A will is a document that becomes effective when you die and specifies what will happen to your possessions, guardianship of your children and other related issues. Most people choose to consult an attorney to prepare their will due to the complexities of inheritance laws. A living will is a document where you can specify what types of medical treatment you would wish to receive if you were gravely ill and unable to participate in decision-making, such as whether to continue mechanical ventilation, tube feeding or other treatments. The Terri Schiavo case brought this important issue into sharp focus recently. You do not need to consult an attorney to complete a living will, and standard forms are available free of charge online and from any health care agency.

The last document is a power of attorney. While there are many types, the article was referring to the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also known as a proxy directive), a document that allows you to specify who will make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. The article incorrectly states that this document indicates your medical preferences. A living will does that, while the proxy directive indicates your choice for a surrogate decision-maker. When you check in, a hospital is obligated to ask if you have either a living will or a proxy directive, because these could be important for your health care.

Sarah E. Shannon, PhD, RN Associate Professor,
Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems (University of Washington)

June, 2005
Thanks for preschool nutrition article

I just got my May ParentMap magazine in the mail and I wanted to thank you for the terrific article on preschools and nutrition . We are thrilled to see our preschool community partners be recognized for their innovative approaches to promoting healthy meals, and we really appreciated your acknowledgement of the Foundation and Group Health nutritionist Rhoda Litvin-Keller. There are a lot of working moms out there who read your magazine, and the article shows that child development centers are very caring partners to families. As a mom with a baby and a 3-year old, I really enjoy reading ParentMap each month. You've also got some great people on your advisory board. Thank you again!

Rhenda Meiser, Group Health,

June, 2005
The long-term effects of divorce

Recently, the title on your front cover, "After Divorce: Helping Kids Heal," (April 2005 ParentMap) caught my eye. I am an ACOD (adult child of divorce), and this is a passionate subject for me.

I entered a romantic relationship about seven months ago. During the first two months, it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that my parents' divorce has instilled in me a fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, perfectionism, co-dependency and other negative tendencies. Since realizing this, I have been going through the painful process of analyzing my past, analyzing my behaviors and how I have been affected by this tragic event in my adolescence. I find myself experiencing intense anger, grief and a constant roller coaster of emotions.

I appreciated the fact that someone wrote about divorce and the importance of children in the whole matter. However, the article claims that parents must take care of themselves first, and in turn this will benefit their kids' health. I disagree. My mother took care of herself first, when my father made his decision to divorce her. By the time she was "healthy," I was already taking care of myself for the most part, becoming the "adult" in the family. This is an unhealthy role I continued to have throughout my teen years and into college. Kids need their parents, first and foremost, during and after a traumatic event like this. Kids are resilient, but it is rare that kids bounce back happily following a divorce, and all too often, the consequences appear later in life, when the kids enter their own relationships.

I commend Deborah Berger for her well-written article. However, divorce affects children more than people realize, and I hope that anyone who writes on this subject will be sensitive to this.

Ashley Marshall,

April, 2006
Kudos for 'Every Child'

Thank you for Every Child, the supplement to the March issue of ParentMap. It was incorporated beautifully as a "centerfold" -- included in and surrounded by the whole magazine. This placement suggested "inclusion" -- i.e., our kids with special needs are being included with all kids. It also suggested the need for our kids and us as parents to surround ourselves with a circle of support.

I did notice one use of terminology that should be clarified. Children "with a chronic condition" are most often called "children with special health care needs." This is the term used by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which funds Children with Special Health Care Needs Programs in every state; the American Academy of Pediatrics and others. Children with special health care needs are defined as "children birth to 18 years of age who have, or are at risk of having, a serious physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition; who require health and related services of a type and amount beyond what is generally required."

For more information about the Children with Special Health Care Needs Program, contact the ASK (Answers for Special Kids) Line: 1-800-322-2588.

Thank you for this supplement -- I look forward to reading future issues!

Cam Lanier, RD, CD Parent Consultant, Adolescent Health Transition Project University of Washington, Seattle

April, 2006
Appreciate grief and loss articles

I needed to write and to give you at ParentMap my sincere thanks for the articles on grief and loss in the March 2005 magazine. We lost our daughter, Olivia, last April due to a cord knot and severe brain damage and oxygen depletion. I also have a living 5 1/2-year-old son. My husband and I have struggled this past year with the overwhelming and crushing grief of this kind of a loss. I would open the parenting magazines and NEVER find anything that dealt with this horrible tragedy.

I know that we want to have parenting magazines deal with our living children, but the reality is that losses like this and others happen. Kudos to you for having the courage and the vision to be able to bring this subject up in a very empathic article. It doesn't make the grief go away; I don't think we will ever totally recover from it. But knowing that there are writers out there who are willing to do articles on how to deal with parents who have had this kind of a loss makes it a little easier to bear.

Now at least I can give something to those people who either have nothing to say because they don't know what to say or to those who want to help but aren't sure how to. My appreciation to you at ParentMap.

Eve Hammond Seattle P.S. Any grieving parent who needs support can email me at thedeve@earthlink.net

April, 2006
Thanks for multi-racial families story

I loved your article on multiracial families (February 2005). I hope to see more info on this subject in the future. Being multiracial in the Seattle area is a reality for many of our kids. They should not have to check only one box to identify their race at school or anywhere else. Congratulations on a great issue.

Sherry Walters Bothell P.S. I am Caucasian and my son's father was born in Peru.

January, 2005 Hillside School 'a hidden gem'

Thank you for the very interesting article about How to start a school (November 2004). More options on the Eastside improve the ability of all families to find the best match for each child. I applaud the efforts of parents and educators to work for more choices in public and private schools.

The story did have one error. The independent Hillside Student Community, serving grades 5 through 12 in the Lakemont neighborhood of Bellevue, has been in operation even longer than the Overlake School. The teachers, many with 20 to 30 years of experience at Hillside, not only provide the highest level of college preparation academically, they also connect personally with my son and every unique student.

The student community has strong bonds and mixed-ages in P.E. and drama classes, as well as after-school activities, and supports my 14-year-old son's strong friendships across grades 7-12. It is a hidden gem in the woods near Cougar Mountain that should not be overlooked. Thank you for your continuing informative coverage of baby through teenage development and education.

Elizabeth Ringwald,

January, 2005
Rabbi shares 'hero' title with parents

Thanks for the absolutely beautiful story in ParentMap about my work (Rabbi brings joy to people with disabilities December 2004). I had an astonishing call from a Christian woman with a Down Syndrome child who just couldn't get over what I had done. She wants me to speak to her faith community about the importance of doing this type of service in her community. I am so thrilled that this has become a ray of hope to so many people in these hard situations. Your article will really help to get the word out about this valuable service.

By the way, I am not the hero. It is the parents who are the heroes, who day in and day out care for these children. I only wanted to use my position to bring attention to their special situation and to provide a meaningful community to share in the unique burdens.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg,

January, 2005
McDonald's? I'm not lovin' it

I know that editorial content and advertising are separate in your magazine, as well as in all others. However, I still feel the need to comment on the full back page ad for McDonald's in this month's (December 2004) issue.

There are quite a few reasons that seeing the ad disappointed me. The first being children's openness to consumer branding. McDonald's has exploited this much more than any other corporation. They are the masters of marketing to kids and thus driving traffic to their product. When I saw that golden arch at the back of the issue that I was reading in front of my 3-year-old, I felt the need to rip it off the page. The second issue is, of course, how bad McDonald's food is for everyone -- especially children. I'm not going to recite to you the statistics on obesity, because I believe that you know them. I have to believe that your magazine does have standards for your advertisers -- namely that the products are not harmful to children. Although many could argue that McDonald's food can be used in moderation, I would argue that it is harmful to children.

I encourage you to stay true to the statement on your Web site that says that your advertisers '"offer outstanding local resources and products for parents." Does McDonald's really do that? I don't think so. Thank you.

Zan McColloch-Lussier,

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