WBUR misrepresents adoption as expensive

This story about a family who is helping another family through surrogacy is really beautiful.

It was disturbing though, as I listened to this on the way to work this morning, to first hear "they decided adoption was too expensive," then hear "about $30,000 worth of medical co-pays, legal fees, even maternity clothes and prenatal vitamins."

The author really should have done some fact-checking and found that domestic adoption is generally quite a bit less than $30,000 for an infant, even a white one, and adoption through the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families is free. It's fine that the family decided adoption isn't for them, but the story should have stated this, rather than the author perpetuating the myth that adoption is expensive, when it in fact can be free.


Self-control in childhood predicts future success

I was very happy to see this article in a mainstream publication. I definitely see in my adult clients -- both the ones with and without labels -- that the people who are the most healthy and successful are the ones who can, to put it simply, sit down and shut up and do the right thing without arguing or making excuses. While personality/morals/trust plays into this a bit, I believe that the most central force in terms of whether someone is able to do this is whether they learned in early childhood to wait, to tolerate discomfort, and to do things much of the time that are someone else's agenda.

Just as I expected, there are comments on the article saying that teaching children to self-regulate and follow rules is stifling their creativity or hurting their self-esteem. I hear this a lot from parents, particularly Generation X or Y parents who are trying to do get away from the themes of our childhoods ("because I said so," "wait until your father hears about this," etc.). While I agree that our childhoods in the '70s and '80s could have been a little less authoritarian and a little more nurturing of our creativity, I do still see a real need for children to learn to conform and follow rules.

Self-esteem and self-control are actually more related than they are opposites; children who understand rules and can do what is expected feel more competent and are happier and more creative. Creativity is also only useful when it is exhibited in the context of knowing the rules and choosing to only slightly break them. I often see parents who look at their toddler as a "free spirit" when the child, say, wanders off to do something else without acknowledging that the parent is speaking. This behavior in my eyes of course looks like the child is either on the way to a neurodevelopmental disorder that needs immediate attention or else hasn't been taught some very necessary life skills.

I, too, want to raise the sort children who grow up to start their own business, but not ones who send the IRS a poem about their quarterly revenue because the correct form didn't interest them.


Container-Baby Syndrome

Here's a great article on why it's best to put babies on the floor as a default when setting them down and to only use baby containers during times when it's not possible to completely supervise the baby.

The article is written by a physical therapist, so it mostly focuses on motor and sensory concerns, but I'll also add that moving one's body freely and being able to explore things is necessary for development of language, cognitive, self-regulation, and social skills. Early developmental skills like head control, trunk control, and a sense of where one's body is in space can help with things later in life, like paying attention, following through with tasks, and understanding limits. These things also help with overall maturity; a child has to be aware of him- or herself before the child can be aware of others.

Oh, and this wasn't mentioned, but babies from newborn onward need access to toys they can manipulate with their hands. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. These can even be provided to stimulate development when the baby is in a container!


Why I still go to Pride, and why it still matters

Happy Pride, everyone!

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This is something I heard hundreds of times today, from friends and family and from strangers.

Yet I've had exactly four non-GLBT people ask me this week if I was going to pride or otherwise mention that his week is pride week.

On my Facebook feed and in the blogs I read, I'm mostly seeing comments about how people don't like pride anymore, because it's become corporate and is dominated by "PFLAGs and churches" and lacks the grassroots community groups that were once central to the event.

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These observations aren't inaccurate. The fees to march in the parade this year (without a vehicle, which costs more) were $140 for non-profits, $40 for student groups, and $220 for other groups (if the group registered before February 28; registration went up every few months and was $875/$250/$1375 after June 1). The fees are the same regardless of whether your non-profit or for-profit runs out of your basement and might not have the resources of Children's Hospital or Home Depot. Certainly, the fees alone shut out a lot of small, local groups.

Still, I argue that pride is needed even more now that we're in a place that we more-or-less have legal rights (we still are hugely lacking, and our trans brothers and sisters even more so). People seem to have forgotten about their GLBT friends and family and coworkers and neighbors, if they notice us at all. In most of my circles, I'm surrounded by mostly straight folks. Which is fine, most of the time, but it points out to me every day that we're still largely invisible and why this "I treat queer people just like anyone else and hardly even remember that you're queer" stuff doesn't work.

As I said, exactly four non-queer people realized that it's pride week and asked if I was going or wished me happy pride. I have far more homophobic experiences in any given week. Or day, actually. And I get far more people asking about my plans for holidays that I don't celebrate or asking if I'm going to notoriously homophobic/transphobic events.

This is why pride still matters. If a bunch of giant corporations that have no major financial reason to give a rat's ass about queers in Boston realize that it's pride week and have taken the time and effort to have a presence at the parade, then surely people who have daily or weekly personal interactions with queer folks can bother to remember that we're queer and make sure they include us and are sensitive to us in their language and their worldviews.

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Look, more effort from freakin' Home Depot than from most of the people I actually know

Beyond that, it's just nice to have a day in which I actually feel community and I'm not the "other." Where my family and I go up to a booth and look at necklaces and a stranger tells me that one's really cute and I should totally buy it for my wife, when most of the time I get asked by not-exactly-strangers if she's my sister or my mom, or asked by a well-meaning coworker how anyone would possibly know I'm gay, not realizing that queers and allies actually listen and look for what someone is putting out there rather than assuming everyone is straight unless they outright say otherwise. (The mom thing seriously happened two separate times. We're both in our 30s.) It's awesome to browse tables of advertisers and chat with community groups without having to have my antennae out to figure out whether the bed and breakfast or wellness center is queer-friendly, or smile and nod politely while I make a mental note to go look on their website later to see if I can figure out if I'd be welcome there.

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Happy Pride, everyone.