2006 Letters to the Editor

December 2006
'Peace' article left something out

I'm inspired to contribute to peace through taking the teaching of Emotional Intelligence to the next level -- that of recognizing the universal human needs which motivate even the most heinous of acts. If we can teach our children to see the beautiful needs underlying behaviors which hurt or scare us, perhaps the next generation will be more successful at finding strategies towards meeting everyone's needs. I enjoyed Michelle Feder's article, "Teaching about peace," (November, 2006) but was disappointed to see no mention of Nonviolent Communication or Marshall B. Rosenberg's work, as that's a powerful tool towards increasing compassionate awareness. For more information, please contact www.cnvc.org or www.psncc.org. Thank you.

Erika Jennings,
Mountlake Terrace


December 2006
Another tool for teaching about peace

Michelle Feder's article, "Teaching about peace," offered a wonderful collection of resources for peace educating and teaching about the value of global citizenship. I agree with Ms. Feder that "teaching peace is urgent." That's why I am working with Teaching for Change, a wonderful nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., which offers support and great ideas to educators and parents across the nation. I invite Puget Sound parents and families to visit www.teachingforchange.org, and I thank ParentMap for its concern about peace education!

Sabrina Sideris,
Washington, D.C.

November 2006
Kindergarten tips unrealistic for some

Regarding the "Getting School Ready" article in the August 2006 issue of ParentMap ("29 skills a child should bring to kindergarten").  Perhaps the kindergarten teachers would prefer entering students have all the 29 skills listed! However, as a pediatrician, I know those expectations are unrealistic for most typically developing children of that age, especially boys. Education should be "the lighting of a flame, not the filling of a vessel" (Socrates).  Please consider publishing a more developmentally-appropriate article about this subject.

Christine Caldwell, MD

September 2006
Kindergarten tips may not apply to all

Regarding the Getting School Ready article by Linda Morgan in the August 2006 issue -- "29 skills a child should bring to kindergarten": I strongly disagree with telling parents that kindergarteners should COME to school with many of the skills listed in this article. While most of the social/emotional items are reasonable expectations and important skills, many of the academic ones are Kindergarten Grade-level Expectations that Washington State expects students to learn by the END of kindergarten. Giving parents too-high expectations of pre-kindergarten students creates anxiety, causing many to break out the flash cards or hire tutors to make sure their child is not "behind."

As a public school representative, I spend a great deal of time encouraging parents to prioritize the social/emotional skills for kindergarten entry. The studies that produced the Washington State Early Learning Benchmarks, including a survey of kindergarten teachers throughout the state, make similar recommendations. Once children have the social/emotional skills, they pick up the rest more easily. Also, it is worth mentioning that at this age a child's birthday plays a strong role in his/her developmental readiness for school. A child with an August birthday may be in a very different place developmentally than a child with a September birthday who is an entire year older. We need to adjust our expectations to be developmentally appropriate to the age of the child.

Items from the list in the article that are actually end-of-year grade level expectations for kindergarten in Washington State include:

  • Count to 31.
  • Sort objects into categories.
  • Retell a story in a sequential order.
  • Follow two- or three-part directions, such as "we're going to put backpacks away, take our folders out and hang up our coats."
  • Match pictures with letters such as B for ball or A for apple.
  • Begin to recognize vowel sounds.
  • Identify upper- and lower-case letters.
  • I found a much more developmentally appropriate kindergarten readiness checklist at the Preschoolers Today Web site (www.preschoolerstoday.com), which I often share with parents at school readiness events. 

Gail Gillis, curriculum specialist
Central Kitsap School District

August 2006
Photograph was beautiful

After reading the letter from the parent who took offense at the photo of the naked pregnant woman in an advertisement, I found the May issue and looked for the ad. Wow -- incredible that the woman was so offended by that beautiful photograph. I can't imagine a more artistic or appropriate photo of a pregnant woman. (It was quite in the spirit of an Edward Weston still life.)

One hears that letters to the editor are printed to reflect the actual numbers or opinion on an issue. Did you have many letters that expressed dismay with that advertisement? I hope not. It is that same obsession with breasts that drives poor nursing mothers to such lengths to hide, in hopes they will offend no one. Anyway, just to register that it may not have been as offensive to all.

Guy Fineout

August 2006
More support for photo

Just wanted to send a brief comment about your June issue. I was dismayed to read the letter to the editor regarding the photographs of E. Rain. I was very surprised that a mother would think that it was necessary to "protect" her 10-year-old son from such images.

I was very pleased to see (in the July 2006 issue) that you had published two letters of mothers who commended you for printing the E. Rain images. These two letters echoed my sentiments in support of those types of images. Thank you for all your good work for Seattle parents. And thank you for publishing comments on both sides of the E. Rain issue. I hope that this counts as another letter in support of your original publication decision.

Laura McCarty

August 2006
Ignorance is offensive

The person who wrote the "Naked woman photo offensive" letter to the editor (June 2006 issue) is in my terms.... a crack head. I find it amazing that in this day and age, that level of repression still exists. These are art photos we are talking about here, not spread shots from Hustler. If the writer of the original letter is so scared of her sexuality (or gender?) that she is offended by this, then she needs go seal herself up in her home and turn off the TV and Internet. I am assuming that she will never take her child to an art gallery or museum?

All in all, I just want to say that I am NOT offended by these ads, but I am offended by the kind of ignorance people like the writer spread. Please do not let people like this shake you or make you change your policies.

Chris Cliff

August 2006
Tech tools for teens

Taken collectively, the articles ("How technology has changed childhood") in your June issue raised a compelling point: We can guide our children educationally but our teens are far more susceptible to being distracted rather than educated by new technologies. The consequences really hit home when one realizes that Washington state ranks 46th in the nation for converting 8th grade graduates into college freshmen and that SATs are only getting more difficult: Seattle University recently reported that mean SAT scores have risen by 50 points in the past 10 years.

Laura Mackenzie's piece noted that educational podcasts exist. Here are some examples that may be of interest to your readers:

iPod: Princeton Review sends out a "daily word" podcast PDA: Kaplan offers an SAT prep application on Personal Digital Assistants Cell phones: mobileprep.com puts SAT flashcards on cell phones Let's face it: studying is a chore and educational tools will have a tough time competing against games and music. The last tool, mobileprep.com, offers a unique incentive: Students are encouraged to share their study content to help others and can even earn money from selling the content. Now there's a good use of social networks! Teens may be quick to assimilate new technologies but creative approaches are needed to convince them to actually adopt those technologies. Let's hope we'll see more high-tech tools that motivate teens so our future leaders can get the education they need.

James Wen

July 2006
Image honors women

I just read the letters to the editor in the June 2006 ParentMap. I am shocked about the letter from Taji DeGross denouncing your decision to include an E Rain Images photo advertisement with a woman's "fully exposed boob" in it because she wants to "protect (her 10 year-old boy's) eyes from naked women." First of all, I assume your publication is called "ParentMap" because it is written for parents, not specifically for children. Second, every parent must make the decision how to expose their children to nudity and pregnancy. There are SO many advertisements that use and degrade women to sell a product. Understandably, we, as parents, must find a constructive way to reframe these images and fervently work to keep our children (especially our daughters) from ingraining these negative messages into their own sense of self. Every image I have seen by E Rain, whether in an advertisement or on her Web site, honors women, babies and children. In her work, she captures the sacred to the earthy -- the spectrum of life in natural settings. These are the images of women we want our children to see. They reflect back to us how our own bodies can look, in their most reverent form, without the constant cloaking of fashionable clothing. In sum, thank you so much for printing E Rain Images in your publication. I ask that you do not censure her submissions in any way due to last month's letter. It is always a highlight of my reading experience seeing her photos in your pages.

April Bolding,

July 2006
Request is misguided

I had to laugh at the request (June 2006) to eliminate pictures such as the E Rain pregnancy image from your publication. While I have deep respect for Taji's drive to create a safe and appropriate world for her son, I think this particular request is misguided. Censoring art and censoring depictions of the body don't make our world a better place for children or adults. I love that my kids see pictures of real people's bodies in magazines such as yours. It gives them an important contrast to the sexualized images in clothing and alcohol advertising that are everywhere.

Please, continue to share lovely pictures of real bodies from real life. Women, pregnancy and breastfeeding will all benefit greatly.

Sara Cole,

June 2006
Thanks for single-parenting article

Thank you for the well-written "Surviving single parenting" in your May 2006 issue. It's inspirational for other single parents to be reminded that we are part of a healthy, happy, resourceful community, and informative for partnered parents to see the realities of our particular families.

As a solo parent (I have sole custody with no visitation), I was astonished and impressed by Laura Doerflinger's distinguishing between co-parenting divorced parents and truly solo parents. The two groups have different challenges. Solo parents have more fatigue but also perhaps more pride, and we don't have the frustrations -- shared by divorced and married co-parents -- of "parenting by committee." My family rules, traditions and time are mine alone to decide, and I love it.

Incidentally, while we occasionally participate in Westminster Chapel's (Bellevue) wonderful events, and the Northshore YMCA offers a few things, I haven't found any programs for single-parent families in Seattle proper. (The links cited in your article are only for legal help, or for dating.) It's time for someone to fill this niche: There are a lot of well-bonded, "just one adult" families like us seeking a Seattle community for mutual support, specifically tailored professional advice and inexpensive family adventures.

Suzanne Pierce,

June 2006
Naked woman photo offensive

I was very offended by the picture on page 20 (May 2006 print issue) in the advertisement for E. Rain Images. ParentMap has always been a magazine that I felt I could read anywhere and not worry about covering up images that I wouldn't want my children to see. As a mother of a 10-year-old boy, I protect his eyes from naked women. I understand the photo is done in an artsy way, but I was really disappointed in the choice to include this in your magazine. I even spent a few minutes looking trying to make sure that truly was a naked woman's fully exposed boob! It draws you in to stare. Not exactly what I would want my son to be doing (nor my daughter, who might be curious why a naked woman would be in a magazine based on being the best parents we can be!).

Please rethink including this picture again. The photographer certainly has another image that would show her artistic side and be more appropriate. I am not a prude, and consider myself very mainstream, but this really influenced my thoughts on your magazine. It was your choice to include it... and I think that shows a lack of judgment on considering who your readers are. If I was offended, I imagine that many more were, too.

Taji DeGross,

May 2006
More on the gay teen issue

While casually eating my lunch, I about fell out of my chair when I opened the March 2006 issue of ParentMap to find the letter written by Laura Peterson, Bellevue, on "Another take on gay teen issue ." Living in Seattle, I sometimes forget about the right-winged harmful opinions of others. Ms. Peterson writes about her disgust about ParentMap publishing the article (January 2006) of "When a Teen Comes Out" with its pro-gay slant. The gay and lesbian population is one that is oppressed and discriminated against. I would hope that anything ParentMap publishes would be non-discriminatory and non-racist. Perhaps Ms. Peterson does not have a problem with discrimination. Suicide is the third leading cause of death of teenagers (taken from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov).

Perhaps she also does not know [about] the high rate of teen suicide, particularly among gays and lesbians. Not because they are gay but because their family and friends are not supportive and throw religion's right-winged hate their way. Thank you, ParentMap, for supporting the health of ALL teenagers and educating the closed-minded about healthy living.

Michelle Massey,

April 2006
Thanks for article on only children

Thank you for your positive article on single-child families (February 2006). In this overpopulated world, it's time to stop glorifying procreational irresponsibility.

Claudette Boudreaux,
Bainbridge Island

April 2006
Focus on Family stigmatizes gay kids

Regarding the letter in the March 2006 issue from Laura Peterson of Bellevue, I would like to address her concerns regarding the supposedly "unbalanced" stance of Linda Morgan's piece, "When a Teen Comes Out" (January 2006).

She starts her case by stating that "for those of (us) with more traditional views on homosexuality" -- which I take to mean those who find homosexuality wrong, an unnatural act, a sin against God or just plain offensive -- there is an alternative resource for parents of gay teens; namely, James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which is an ultra-conservative, right-wing Christian "family" resource. I sincerely hope that ParentMap would never ever consider pointing to anything James Dobson is connected to as a family resource, especially for any issue that the Christian Right is opposed to, such as homosexuality or abortion. His Focus on the Family organization hosts "Love Won Out" conferences, which are "dynamic one-day conferences addressing, understanding and preventing homosexuality." Dobson is also a supporter of Exodus International, an "ex-gays ministry" whose message is "Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." These kinds of organizations and events do so much more harm than good to families dealing with homosexuality.

Instead of helping kids deal with their feelings and understand what's going on with themselves in a respectful, dignified and deeply caring way, Dobson's organization aims to help them revert back to heterosexuality, and teaches these kids that being gay is wrong and unnatural, and that it is a sin. It adds to the shame, stigma and confusion that these teens are already feeling. If your teen comes out to you and finds that you are reading an article titled, "When a Loved One Says 'I'm Gay': It is possible to move beyond the grief," can you imagine how your child would feel? As if they told you that they were a drug addict or a murderer? Please consider this information for future articles on this matter. I applaud Linda Morgan's piece, because she gave family resources that are responsible, respectful and truly caring toward the young people they are trying to help.

Myriam Gabriel-Pollock,

April 2006
Going beyond toy chaos

I would like to comment on the article "Help your preschoolers control toy chaos," by Laurie Thompson, published in the March 2006 issue. She looked at the word "control" only in terms of storage organization without checking the underlying reason of "chaos," which is children's entire perceived environment. Children perceive order as a matter of relationships of images, events and actions. Studies show that their minds are so absorbent that nothing is missed for their formation/incarnation in them. So the storage boxes mentioned work only when there is general consistency in the way we live with the children. Without consistency, we impart only the material value of order without its spiritual dimension from which the human personality is shaped. In this way, the children learn both of reorganizing and caring for organization itself.

Maria Montessori said: "Only in an environment known as a whole, it is possible for them to orient themselves and act with purpose." Unlike adults, for children order is not for personal convenience. "It is like the land upon which animals walk or the water in which fish swim." Perhaps it is about time to change our perspective of our children. In fact, they love order and serenity more than we do. They just could not be poised because we began showing instability. Our restlessness provides inner repression and confusion, which distort the proper formation and expression of the inner energy that is theirs. If only their environment corresponds to their size, energy and psychic faculties, they would be free to show their full potentials as astonishing as the excitement of a Mozart to his piano.

There is a lot more than the covert behaviors we are annoyed about every day. The human person who is hidden in the child wants to show up but he could not resist his repressive environment. Hence, his defense mechanisms burst out to our frustration: "sobs, screams, misbehavior, shyness, disobedience, lying, egoism, and destructiveness. We commit the gravest error if we consider these means of defense as the essential element of the child." Maria Montessori clearly said, "...the result is children who are disorderly because order had been imposed upon them, children lazy because previously forced to work, children disobedient because their obedience had been enforced." The parents might say that such model is so ideal. But I have already seen how well it works in a Montessori classroom. I think there's no worthier beneficiary of our continued sacrifice than a child of our own if we really have complete love and respect for his humanity.

George D. Pagulayan, Montessori teacher
Montessori Plus School, Kent

March 2006
Another take on gay teen issue

I'm willing to bet money this editorial will not be printed. As a dedicated parent and educated member of the Christian community here in the Pacific Northwest, I felt compelled to write after reading an article by Linda Morgan entitled, "When a Teen Comes Out." (January 2006 ParentMap). In her article, Ms. Morgan compiled advice on how parents should respond when their adolescents tell them they are gay. I noticed that the majority of the references used for this article were pro-gay organizations such as the Lambert House and the PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders), to name only a few. I was disappointed and grieved to find the article and its advice so decidedly unbalanced.

For those of us with more traditional views on homosexuality, I'd like to offer an alternative resource for parents whose teens confide in them regarding homosexual desires. Focus on the Family has an extremely helpful Web site called www.troubledwith.com that gives compassionate, biblical advice on a wide range of topics from depression and alcoholism to adolescent peer pressure and rebellion. There is an entire section devoted to teens and homosexuality. Especially pertinent to the topic at hand is the article entitled, "Mom, I Think I'm a Lesbian: How should a parent respond when a child says she's gay?"

If contacting the PFLAG is the last thing you would do when faced with your teen's homosexuality, this Web site may be for you. Other articles on the troubledwith.com site that might be of interest for parents are: "When a Loved One Says 'I'm Gay': It is possible to move beyond the grief." "Sexual Orientation in Doubt: When your adolescent isn't sure of his or her sexual orientation." "Straight Talk About Male Homosexuality: How to broach the subject with your son." "Relating to Your Gay Child: How to rebuild a suffering relationship." The site recommends books on the subject. For example, one resource helps parents explore factors contributing to a child's healthy gender identification; another gives strategies for those who desire to walk away from the gay lifestyle. (By the way, Focus on the Family always offers FREE resources such as these for those who cannot afford the suggested donations.) One can also find encouraging stories by other parents who've been down this road before and found help and healing. I highly recommend the website troubledwith.com. It is an invaluable resource for sound, biblical advice for families, especially for those confronted with teen homosexuality.

Laura Peterson,

March 2006
Safe Schools Coalition a resource

Thank you for Linda Morgan's insightful article about the experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth as they come out to themselves and their families. I especially appreciated the comments from Caitlin Ryan and the families. The article will help parents to find a way past their initial feelings at their child's disclosure, a way to communicate love to their child even as they integrate the news. I have another "Recommended Resource" to suggest to parents: The Safe Schools Coalition has a website safeschoolscoalition.org) that people find extremely practical and a listserve where you can learn more on an ongoing basis. And in Washington state, the Coalition has an intervention team to help if your child is experiencing anti-gay harassment or violence at school. Email intervention@safeschoolscoalition.org or call the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center's hotline (1-888-99-VOICE) 24 hours a day and ask for a call back from a Safe Schools intervention specialist.

Beth Reis,

March 2006
Don't forget the Lake City library

I would like to request that you please not join the ranks of the rest of Seattle's media in forgetting that Lake City is a vital and large neighborhood IN the city of Seattle.

In your most recent edition (January 2006), you did not mention the newly remodeled Lake City library in your list of newly remodeled city libraries. The rest of the Seattle media, including The Weekly, The P-I, The Times and The Stranger, routinely leave Lake City out of their reviews of events, places and people around our city. It is irritating, to say the least. But Lake City has a great deal to offer parents who read ParentMap. Not only is our new library beautiful but it has a story hour every Thursday and a lovely playground outside (around the back). There is also a newly remodeled Lake City Playground a block away. The latter has a large play area, a grassy field and basketball courts. And the city has added many new sidewalks, trees and planters to our neighborhood, upgrading its looks considerably. Please remember us in your future editions. We are part of Seattle!

Kathy Hennessy,

February 2006
Thanks for article on gay teens

What a great resource you provided in your recent feature "When a Teen Comes Out."

(January 2006). You managed to cover an important and often ignored issue affecting young people and their families. The article provided important resources for parents and teens to support them in this challenging situation, while also acknowledging the delicate balance between parental concerns and feelings, school environment and the healthy support necessary for young people who are not straight. Your article is a refreshingly useful tool for parents, teens and teachers alike.

Keep up the great work.

Garrison Kurtz,
Foundation for Early Learning

February 2006
What about parents of adopted kids?

I have been reading ParentMap for a couple of years now and really enjoy it. The article titled "A better way to become a parent" (December 2005) discusses UW Professor Pamela Jordan's research on how kids fare in two-parent vs. single-parent families, as well as biological vs. step two-parent families. My problem with this article is the choice of the word "biological." Here's a quote: "Jordan specifically stresses the importance of a biological father living at home. (Notice the emphasis on the term biological: Research shows that children who grow up in stepfamilies don't do much better than in homes with single parents, she notes.)"

I assume that Ms. Wippel just repeated the word where the researcher used it. However, another term, or a descriptive (multi-word) phrase should have been used instead. There are many children who have been adopted and consequently do not have their biological fathers around. I think it is safe to assume that Ms Jordan did not have these children in mind when she used the term. Since the term "biological" -- father, parent, mother -- is commonly used when referring to an adopted child's birth family, one might be led to believe that all or most adopted children have the problems listed in the article.

Another quote: "According to Jordan, kids growing up in homes without biological fathers are *five times more likely to be poor *two times more likely to use illegal drugs *two to three times more likely to have health, emotional and behavioral problems, and be victims of child abuse."

I have two children whom my husband and I adopted when they were babies. We are aware that there are still a lot of misconceptions and prejudices when it comes to adopted children. The adoptive community is constantly working on changing the culture to eliminate these prejudices. We also encourage the use of positive adoption language, as opposed to the terms that confuse the adopted children, and are sometimes offensive/hurtful to the adoptive and/or birth families. (An example: Some people still use the word "real" mother/father instead of "biological" or "birth" mother/father.) The word "biological" in this article might create another misconception when it comes to families formed through adoption. If the author/researcher could not come up with a more appropriate term (honestly -- I can't think of one), then some kind of a waiver should have been added in the conclusion, excluding children who have been adopted and live in two-parent families.

Marija Andreic,

January 2006
Questionable research about marriage and kids?

Wow. I can't begin to express the dismay I felt upon reading "A better way to become a parent" (December 2005 ParentMap).

The topic in itself is laudable: providing preparation for parenting rather than simply preparation for labor and delivery. Rather, it's the promotion of questionable research claims regarding the fate of children in non-married households that is shameful.

Without providing any sources other than Ms. Jordan, the article portrays all non-married, non-heterosexual families as not only less preferable, but also potentially harmful to children. Homosexual couples CANNOT marry; are we supposed to believe that their children fare worse than others? Research shows that they don't. On measures of psychosocial well-being, school functioning and romantic relationships and behaviors, teens with same-sex parents are as well adjusted as their peers with opposite-sex parents.

A more important predictor of teens' psychological and social adjustment is the quality of the relationships they have with their parents (National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 2004). This translates to non-married couples as well: If the family is stable and there is a committed relationship between the parents, children will do well.

Moreover, the author places excess emphasis on biological fatherhood. What about adopted children? Children of IVF and ART? Children who are in step-families from infancy? Is the author seriously suggesting that children who are adopted or conceived in vitro do worse at math and reading, or are more likely to be poor? Please spare me. There is NO research to suggest that these children fare worse than those in the "perfect world" [of] married parents.

I guess my ultimate question is what ANY of this has to do with promoting parenting classes. ALL couples preparing to become parents -- married and non-married alike -- need information to help them stay together in the first years after childbirth. So dispense with the hetero- and marriage-centric attitudes and focus on the issue: providing PARENTS with the tools to keep their relationships healthy.

Molly Maloney,


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