Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When Fathers Kill Their Children

My brother, who's a lawyer in New York City, says that infanticide is a lot more common than parricide, especially if a man's children are living apart from him with an estranged spouse. There have certainly been some disturbing cases recently of fathers who murder their children, or are accused of murdering their children.

Fifty-nine-year-old William Parente is one of these dads. This tax and estate planning lawyer murdered his wife and his two daughters (ages 11 and 19) in a Sheraton hotel room in Maryland before taking his own life last month. Apparently he cut himself and bled to death in the bathroom. A cleaning lady found the four bodies. The New York Daily News reported that the deaths did not happen quickly.

No one is sure why he did this but an investigation has made it clear that Parente's finances were in ruins. I can only think he killed his family with the mistaken idea that he would be saving them from the shame of bankruptcy? He was obviously mentally deranged at the time but the story is so sad and so bizarre.

Still, ascribing some kind of charitable motive to this father who murdered his family makes little sense given that Parente, who was apparently a deeply religious Catholic, beat the shit out of his wife and daughters before strangling them to death.

Another absolutely mortifying story of a father turning on his family is the Chris Coleman case, which has been reported on Fox News.

Thirty-two-year-old Coleman is accused of strangling his wife and two sons, Gavin and Garret, in their home in Columbia, Illinois. He has pleaded not guilty. I can't help thinking that if he isn't guilty (what motive could he possibly have for killing his family?) the fact that he's been arrested while grieving for the loss of his family and branded as a murderer is even more devastating to an already shattered life.

When Parenting published an article about moms being mad at their spouses by Martha Brockenbrough, it was so widely read that the New York Times blogged about it. But the recent news suggests the opposite: that dads are so mad at their wives, and their families, that they are sometimes willing to commit murder.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Heart Cloth Diapers

There's a recent AP article exploring how some frugal parents (they say moms but we say moms and dads) are turning to cloth diapers to save money in this difficult economy.

We all need ways to save money, an excellent reason to use cloth diapers.

There are lots of other reasons too, some of which are mentioned in the article but some which you won't hear about in the mainstream press.

#1 Here's one of the most interesting: some scientists theorize that the rise in male infertility among European men is partially connected with the widespread use of disposable diapers. Here's why--the male genitalia is on the outside of the body to stay cooler in temperature. Parents tend not to change disposable diapers as often as cloth diapers, because you can't tell when they are wet, thereby unnaturally raising the temperature of their child's genitalia.

Moral of the story: whatever diaper type you use, give your son as much air time (fanny exposure) as possible.

#2 Babies in cloth potty train earlier: This makes parenting a lot easier. Babies in cloth diapers learn to associate peeing with wetness more readily than babies in disposable diapers. The new cloth diapers are so state-of-the-art and amazingly dry that maybe this isn't as true as it used to be but it still seems to be the general case.

#3 Cloth diapers are cutier: Absolutely adorable. Your kid won't only be an ecobaby, he'll have the cutest derriere on the block.

#4 Cloth diapers aren't big business: A lot of people making cloth diapers are stay-at-home parents and small business owners. We heart them and we want to support them.

#5 Cloth diapers are easy to clean: Especially if your newborn is breastfeeding, you'll be so surprised how easy the cloth diaper washing thing is. First of all, you don't need bleach or ANYTHING like it. Second of all, you can get away with washing pee pee diapers on cold (we swear -- just put a little vinegar in the rinse water) and poopy diapers on warm. Honest.

Friday, May 8, 2009

U.S. ranks 27th, Niger ranks last

This is so sad, though Save the Children's annual Mother's Day Report Card isn't telling us anything we don't already know.

Basically that it is very difficult to be a mother in the United States, which ranks 27th among the 158 countries surveyed. Niger -- where James, Jennifer, and their three children lived for a year -- ranks dead last.

The United States is among the richest countries in the world, and the most powerful. Yet we have arcane policies about motherhood, fatherhood, and early childhood.

The highest scoring countries (Ireland, Denmark, France, and Norway are among them) have child-friendly policies, good health for mothers and children, and high economic and educational status for mums.

Sweden ranks first.
In the United States, an alarming number of children are at great risk of failure in school because they are not getting the care and support they need in their early years. New Mexico, Nevada, Mississippi, Arizona and Alabama are the bottom five states where young children face the greatest obstacles to success in school. These states scored low on indicators of parental involvement, quality of home life and preschool participation. Parents in these states are clearly struggling to give their young children a good start in life – and as a result 71 to 81 percent of fourth graders in the public schools in these states are not reading at grade level. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine are the top five states where, generally speaking, parents and communities are doing a better job of preparing children to succeed in school. (p.5)
You can access the PDF of the executive summary of the report here.