2006 Letters to the Editor

Published on: December 01, 2006

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
Seattle



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
Seattle



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
Seattle



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
Lynnwood



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
Seattle



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,
Seattle



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,
Seattle 



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,
Seattle



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,
Snohomish



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,
Edmonds


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,
Redmond



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,
Bellevue



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,
Seattle



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,
Seattle



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,
Issaquah


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,
Seattle

 

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