Over the weekend I was talking to Helen, JUNO’s brilliant sub-editor. We were both working hard to get the next issue ready, and Helen said she had a wonderful image of me at our family table surrounded by books. This got me thinking about all the dedicated parents out there who work at crazy times and in different places, blending jobs, passions and projects with family life – which I know is not easy. So, here is me working on a Saturday morning while the children made lego models around me. Do you work at random times to get things done, or have a mobile office desk?
This is Steve Biddulph, talking on Thursday 17 January 2013 at The Colston Hall in Bristol about his concerns for girls and what we as parents can do to help them.
This event was organised by JUNO magazine, of which I am editor, and it was fantastic to see so many parents there, really engaged by what Steve said and leaving energised with ideas about how to help their girls. You can read more about the event in this Independent on Sunday article.
Over the last few months I have been working closely with Steve Biddulph and Sue Palmer, both of whom have books about girls out in 2013. They are both very concerned about the pressures on girls today, the influences they face such as the images bombarded at them from screens and magazines of “impossibly lovely” women, the inference that this is what they should aspire to; the prevalence of porn on the Internet and how this corrupts their perception of sex; the availability of alcohol specifically designed to entice them.
Sue and Steve discuss all these concerns in an article in the Spring issue of JUNO, published 1 March. What I think makes this article so powerful is that it’s not just about what we can do as parents, but what we should ALL be doing as responsible members of society and a community. We should not sit back and let it become “normal” for little girls to wear sexy clothes. We should not allow it to be “normal” for little girls to read magazines about make up, sex, boys, celebrities and diets or drink a bottle of vodka before they go out, aged 14. Advertisers and corporations are preying on our little girls, taking away the innocence of their childhood.
It’s said that everything has been shunted forward 4 years – what we dealt with at 14, girls now deal with at 10 etc, but they aren’t ready then to understand. They should be playing in the park, not fusing about make up. An article in the Daily Mail yesterday starts: “These days, there’s a new grumble among women who ply the so-called oldest profession in the world. Their clients, they say, are finding it increasingly hard to identify them. Why? Because ordinary 17-year-old girls are dressing just like prostitutes.” How shameful that we have let this happen in our society.
So I urge you to read up on this and think it through for yourself. If, like me, you feel there are important issues that need to be discussed, that we need to work together to change this trend then please, speak up, spread the word, get involved…for example, there’s Mumsnet’s Let Girls be Girls campaign, or The Save Childhood Movement which is gathering voices who are concerned about this and other issues such as educational pressures. Come to the Flourish summit in London in April and make your voice heard.
Cold and clear this morning, everything edged with white, glittering frost.
Freeze-dried washing; cardboard trousers; clothes and sheets hanging stiffly on the line.
Counting down the days of Advent. Candles and a fire warming the cold, dark evenings.
I have spent the last week in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am a trustee of charity ARBAN UK which has built and is running a small clinic in Jheelpur Slum in Dhaka. I and another trustee visited to see how the clinic is functioning so we can best understand what we need to do to continue to support the work.
It has been an amazing but emotional week. I have discovered an amazing community but also seen and heard some difficult things, especially about the life of mothers. The girl pictured was 11 when she had her first child. She is now 18 and also has one-year-old twins. We also met a woman with deep hurt in her brown eyes. In September she had a difficult labour in the slum (very few go to hospital). Things went wrong, the women of the slum who are the “dais”, birthing assistants, did their best but the baby was born in trauma and died. It must have been horrific for all involved, but especially this young woman.
We are discussing how we can help, by organising more training for the dais. There is so much need it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed. I will report more news here when I have it, but for now, if you would like to read reports of the week and see photographs please visit www.arban.org.uk or our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ArbanUK?ref=hl
Nine years ago today I became a mother.
How fast time passes. So much has happened in those nine years, so many changes and wonderful experiences, and yet I still can’t quite understand where all those days have gone.
Sometimes days at home with tiny children seem interminably long, as you wonder how to entertain a rampaging toddler, or long to lie on the floor and go to sleep. And yet those baby years have raced by, and now I have no babies and three children at school. Six daytime child-free hours. I’m not bored, there’s always lots to do, but it sometimes hurts to realise those days with little children are gone.
Slow hours, and yet years passing so fast.
And despite scraggy grey hairs, I still don’t feel old or responsible enough to have a 9 year old son.
Motherhood is so complex. And it all started for me, 9 years ago today.
I saw a news report today about 4G. I don’t have a smart phone so I’m not that excited about the launch, I was more concerned about the underlying current of the report. A technology commentator being interviewed said:
“doing everything faster can only be better for us”
But is it really? Don’t we just end up rushing things, dashing from here to there, not really concentrating on or enjoying what we are doing? If we are glued to our technology while out and about, don’t we fail to live in the moment? I am distracted enough by emails, which is why I’ve chosen not to have a smartphone so that emails don’t follow me around. But I know that is not the trend.
It concerns me that as a society we are collectively thinking that faster is better for us, that if we can access websites more quickly while out, that will improve our quality of life. As I dash between school, home, the supermarket, the washing line, back to school again (frantic enough without the distraction of a smart phone) I can’t help thinking that the sentiment expressed in the news report is wrong. Doing everything faster is NOT better for us. We need to slow down and appreciate each moment, not dash through life in our quest for more, better faster.
I have surprised myself by how much I am enjoying the Olympics. I was drawn in by the start of the Opening Ceremony when the green and pleasant land was dramatically turned into a grey industrial wasteland and one of the Olympic rings was forged.
I was not intending to follow any sport but have been watching bits and pieces with the children. Today they were really excited to see Bradley Wiggins win a gold medal. It was great to see him ride off to find his family and bring them in to his celebrations. People like him really can be a role model for our children.
However, I was a bit concerned by what I saw from the British beach volleyball team. One of them appeared to be chewing all through their match with Canada. I don’t know much about sport so am happy to be enlightened that this was an important part of her game plan – something to increase stamina? But if she was just chewing gum, I will be really disappointed. Is it a good example to set to chew while you are running around and throwing yourself about?
We don’t have a Wii in our house (and don’t intend to) but our 8-year old is already addicted, from the times he plays at a friend’s house. I try not to spoil his fun of enjoying something very different from home – I remember going to friend’s houses as a child and loving it because it was such a contrast to home – but what bothers me is how it is affecting how he sometimes perceives life.
Today at school they had a golf lesson, but T dismissed it as boring. He said he already knew how to play golf because he’d played it on the Wii. He didn’t seem to appreciate that golf is actually holding a club and tapping a ball across the grass rather than waving a piece of plastic around.
Should I be bothered about this? Will he learn to differentiate between the fun of the virtual and the joy of the real experience?
Just published, the Summer issue of JUNO. We are really excited about its vibrant summer feel. With articles on Independent Midwifery, Yurt Living, Nursing Measles, Tribal Parenting and Screen Time there’s lots to think about. There’s also a fantastic poem from Hollie McNish who wrote the brilliant WOW, an interview with midwife Ina May Gaskin and some beautiful illustrations.
Find out more at www.junomagazine.com.