NEWS THIS WEEK 28 AUGUST 2011

Daniel Morcombe
Today we learned that remains found earlier this week belong to Daniel Morcombe. This story makes me feel incredibly sad. I have no idea how that news would have been received by Daniel’s family. Relief? A new wave of grief? A sense of closure? I don’t know. There is just nothing good about this story. Nothing at all.

Earlier in the week, this next news story made the rounds in Twitter.
A Townsville mother who made her young son sit in public with a sign reading “Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief” pinned to his shirt has defended her actions, saying she had tried everything to stop him from shoplifting.

Yeah, well public humiliation is no deterrent. That whole scenario just shifts the emphasis from her son’s habitual shoplifting to her barbaric form of discipline. This isn’t going to teach her son anything other than to resent his mother; not change his ill-gotten ways.

Dr Phil
I’m sure Dr Phil would have plenty to say but I wonder what he has to say about this mother in the US who was so desperate to get on Dr Phil’s show that she sent in an audition video showing her pouring hot sauce into the crying child’s mouth and not allowing him to spit it out for more than a minute. The footage also shows Beagley forcing the screaming boy into a cold shower before sending him to bed.

Now the mother, Jessica Beagley, says she was desperate to get help for her misbehaving son. She claims that Dr Phil asked for video footage that showed more than just her shouting at her children. Does this make Dr Phil complicit in this boy’s torture? Because let’s face it, that’s what it is.

A jury has found Beagley guilty of misdemeanour child abuse. Beagley faces up to a year in prison and a $US10,000 fine.

And here’s a headline that brought a smile to my face. Why lazy parents make happy families.
Children need time and space just to play and to be – if not they’ll end up psychologically damaged and useless, says a British parenting writer and philosopher.
Tom Hodgkinson is author of The Idle Parent, a book that encourages parents to adopt a hands-off approach so that their children become more self-reliant and capable.

So does that mean because I am extremely lazy in the morning and my children get themselves dressed and serve up their own breakfast, it is not a parenting fail on my part, but a great start to teaching accountability and responsibility? Everybody nod now. Thank you.

Unfortunately the article is talking about unstructured play and parents spending more time with their kids. Well that’s all well good, as long as it’s not expected in the morning.

But in all seriousness, I joke about my kids having to get their own breakfast as a parenting fail. But what is a serious community issue is the following story.

Fifty-seven children in NSW died as a result of abuse or neglect, or in circumstances suggestive of abuse or neglect, over two years, a NSW Ombudsman’s report has revealed. More than half – 30 – had previously been reported to Community Services for being at risk of harm.

Maybe this is me jumping on my high horse but we have to do better by these kids.

Especially when on the other end of the spectrum those how have university degrees and/or a high income are expected to live longer than those who don’t.

My immediate reaction was to joke that it was surprising find considering I shudder to think how many brain cells I damaged drinking during my university years.

The article says if you are in the top 20 per cent of income earners you can expect to live six years longer than someone in the bottom 20 per cent. If your education extends beyond year 12 you can expect to live four years longer than someone who stopped when they left school.

So immediately I begin to think why is this so. Well people with university degrees tend to earn more (not a hard fact but the correlation is there).

Do you have these in your suburb?
The more well off you are the more likely you are to live closer to the city. Here’s another article from December 2008 that says the closer you live to the city, the better chance you have of being trim, a study of Sydney suburbs has found. Simply put down to the layout of the suburb.

And another article from July 2011 says income helps us pay for club or gym memberships, and buy costly equipment. Education can make it easier to find health information and to weigh up the options. And the richer suburbs have better facilities: places to run, play and work out. It’s more difficult to take long walks if your neighbourhood’s filthy or dangerous, or every shopping trip requires driving.

While this all sounds accurate, it’s not an exact science. My parents were not university educated; in fact they didn’t finish high school. They are migrants to Australia and did not have a lot of money. My love for fitness simply came from being forced into the backyard and onto the street to play and run around. My parents are 78 and 75. And they are in fantastic health for their age.

13 Comments

  • At 2011.08.28 23:18, MamaBearVic said:

    Great post Maria, ah where to begin! I guess I’ll weigh in on the topic that is closest to my heart which is the hands-off parenting approach. Hands-off is a misleading term for this more relaxed type of parenting, but it has been getting some press lately as a counterpoint to the “Tiger-Mom” type of parenting which some people promote as the best way to cultivate high-achieving kids.

    I take great comfort from the relaxed-parenting advocates because I firmly believe that as parents our primary job is to meet our children’s basic needs, protect them of course, love love love them as much as they can stand it and be there to help them learn about the world, become good citizens within it and achieve whatever their dreams might be.

    I have always encouraged my son to do as much for himself as he is capable of doing because not only does this take some element of his dependence off of me, but I can see his eyes light up with the satisfaction of accomplishment and I tell him 20 times a day how proud I am of him. If I can teach him that he has power and influence and control over himself and to some extent his environment, then I have done my job and when it comes time for him to get out in the world, I know he will be alright. I can already see the confidence and independence he has for a child of only 2. And that approach works very well for us, but to each their own I say!

    • At 2011.09.08 22:12, Maria said:

      I take my cues from my children. My 1st and 3rd children are a little more unsure and hesitant. So they need more encouragement from me and when it comes to extracurricular activities, they both preferred to wait until they were older.
      My 2nd was gun-ho from the start. Really really independent so I just let him go and watched from a distance. My 4th (about to turn 2) is just like my 2nd.
      So while I do have an overarching parenting style, I realised that I do approach each of my children differently.
      Thanks for the visit and comment.
      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2011.08.28 23:22, Nicole aka _wideeyedgirl said:

      We are so interesting in the same news stories, funny that?! The Lazy parents one (it’s on my read it later list) surprised me or actually disappointed me as I didn’t know that Tom Hodgkinson was behind the story. He also wrote “how to be idle” and “How to be free” which I have from my single, carefree days – and although I love the books I’ve never taken this ukelele playing author seriously – so I’m going to investigate further thanks to you, and you can’t guess why?! That’s right I want to increase his credibility so I can feel good about the various neglect-o-matic tactics I employ throughout the day! Thanks for this round up, it’s great to have all the stuff us Mums are interested in summed up here every week, looking forward to next weeks already. Nic x

      • At 2011.09.08 22:12, Maria said:

        I take my cues from my children. My 1st and 3rd children are a little more unsure and hesitant. So they need more encouragement from me and when it comes to extracurricular activities, they both preferred to wait until they were older.

        My 2nd was gun-ho from the start. Really really independent so I just let him go and watched from a distance. My 4th (about to turn 2) is just like my 2nd.

        So while I do have an overarching parenting style, I realised that I do approach each of my children differently.

        Thanks for the visit and comment.

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

        • At 2011.09.08 22:17, Maria said:

          Okay, I’ve just put in a reply to you that was meant for someone else. Eek.

          Neglect-o-matic tactics; I love it. To be honest, I haven’t read any of his stuff. I have read SLOW by Carl Honore. What a great book. I actually kind of sped read it the first time which of course defeats the purpose.

          My 22 month old is a whizz on the ipad, while I’m on twitter (shhhh) and then I read an article saying that it actually helps him to learn. I know, I know, Steve Jobs is a god amongst men but more importantly my guilt is lessened a little bit more.

          Love & stuff
          Mrs M

        • At 2011.08.29 11:27, TheUrbanMum said:

          I am not sure “The Idle Parent” is a great title.
          I try every day to instil in my children responsibility, resilience and confidence.
          Whilst also trying to keep the show on the road with homework, good nutrition, reading, exercise and enough sleep… Then I like them to have free play, the time to simply be – make decisions for themselves.
          Achieving the balance is hard work – nothing idle about it.
          A great post and round-up of topics. I really enjoyed reading it. x

          • At 2011.09.08 22:21, Maria said:

            The homework is the one that bugs me the most to be honest. Not because I’m idle about their learning but like you said, there is so much to fit in during the afternoon.

            What i like to do is get my kids to help with dinner so they have to learn time management skills, maths to work out how much each person gets, and cooking.

            Or other things like that still work on cementing concepts they’ve learnt at school, but just not in a formal kind of way.

            Thanks for the comment and visit. I’ll be back again next week with more news.

            Love & stuff
            Mrs M

          • At 2011.08.29 14:59, Cecilia @ Parenting Controversy said:

            I think it’s time I started adopting that Idle Parent philosophy more in this house. Miss 9 doesn’t hesitate to request that I be the one to come and change the TV channel for her if the remote isn’t within her reach. Neither is she adverse to asking me to get up from the computer to get her a drink, to save herself from having to get up. I did however object to last night’s “dress me” demand. I’m not 100% putty in her hands. 😉

            • At 2011.09.08 22:26, Maria said:

              You know what Cecilia, my mother was definitely guilty of ‘mothering’ too much. I do remember liking it I have to admit.

              But…there is always a but…

              My mother was my nephews full time carer when my sister-in-law and brother went back to work. And I could see just how much ‘mothering’ she did.

              One day when my nephew was about 7 he was eating toast on the couch and my mother was laying down with a migraine. My nephew finished his toast and started calling out to my mother across the house to come and get his plate.

              I came out and explained that grandma was asleep so could he please take the plate to the sink (which was about 5 metres away) himself. He looked at me like I had 2 heads. “But I’m watching TV”, he says.

              “Wait for a commercial break” I reply.

              “But I don’t do that here” he announces.

              “Do you do this at home?” I quizzed.

              “No way, mum always makes me take my plate to the sink”.

              I laughed. So they can be taught.

              Love & stuff
              Mrs M

            • At 2011.09.06 10:05, Jan Littlehales said:

              You raise so many interesting points in your post, I had to read it twice! I’ll comment on just a couple of the points you raise.
              First, the Daniel Morcombe story – like you say, there is nothing good about this story. My heart goes out to the family who have had to live with this for so many years and it will never go away. Just horrible.
              Lazy parenting – hey, we’ve all been there and done that!
              Love your way of writing – I’ll visit again :)

              • At 2011.09.08 22:28, Maria said:

                Hi Jan,

                Thanks for the your kind words.

                I actually tweeted a few weeks ago that my 4th child does things that I would never have let my 1st do. Like try and climb the tree in the backyard and he’s not even 2.

                I don’t know if I’m lazy, more idle, more hands off, or what.

                Love & stuff
                Mrs M

              • At 2011.09.07 16:01, Lina@MothersLoveLetters said:

                Thanks for bringing all this together, Maria.
                Hey, I can’t believe we didn’t know each other at uni! Well, if I had shown up every now and then, I might have got to know a few more people… !
                Your parents sound awesome :)

                • At 2011.09.08 22:33, Maria said:

                  You didn’t turn up to uni Lina? But you did a proper law degree didn’t you?

                  I was the Communications Major. It’s just all stuff in that degree 😉

                  I love that you say my parents sound awesome. They’re just typical migrant parents.

                  Usually i was kicked out because the house was clean and being a kid I was not. And dad liked quiet in the house.

                  Love & stuff
                  Mrs M

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