Monthly Archives: July 2008

Kids and Cholesterol Drugs

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that under the current guidelines, thirty per cent of the nation’s children are overweight or obese.  Many doctors fear that a rash of early heart attacks and diabetes will strike these children as they grow older.

The nation’s pediatricians are therefore recommending wider cholesterol screening for children – starting at age two – and more aggressive use of cholesterol-lowering drugs starting as early as eight years of age in hopes of preventing adult heart problems.

Because statins (cholesterol drugs) have been around since only the mid-1980s, there really is no evidence to show whether giving statins to children will, indeed, lower the risk for heart attack in middle age.

The main problem is that we live in a culture which is largely hooked into electronic entertainment and spend too much time feeding one end and not moving the other.

Quote of the Week

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.  One is roots.  The other is wings.
               – Hodding Carter, Jr.

Changing Her Little Piece of the World

This came from Kami, one of my radio listeners:

I am a stay-at-home Mom with a Master’s degree who chose to quit my job to raise my three sons (ages 5, 2, and 11 months).  I never dreamed of growing up to be a Mom.  I wanted to use my brain, get an education, and change the world through my career.  Now, every day, I find myself using my brain, getting an education, and hopefully, changing my little piece of the world as I work to shape my boys into men.

Instead of having them sit in daycare or pre-school for a big part of the week, I want my kids to play and read with me, and go to the library and find books of their own.  I want the freedom of knowing I can wake up and decide that we are going to hang out in our pjs until noon, and make bread or watch the birds building nests on our porch.  I want to help them make forts and play “hide ‘n seek,” and go on adventure walks around the neighborhood, even though it takes us twenty minutes to get past two houses.  I want them to go to the store and pick out their own veggie seeds to plant in the garden.  I want them to have snowball fights with me when I’m shoveling the driveway, and to help me fix dinner for someone who is sick.

My son has taught me so many things while he wasn’t in pre-school.  I learned that yogurt, pudding, and shaving cream can be used to draw with your finger; that bad weather, not necessity, is the mother of invention when it comes to craft projects; that math can be learned when baking cookies, cleaning up toys, handing out snacks, and putting away laundry; that some of the best talks happen in my bed when we just don’t feel like getting up.

And talk we do.  We talk about life and death, how planes work, where snow comes from, and whether pirates are decent.  We study geography as we drive around doing errands, and learn about engineering as we watch the progression of building construction.  We even tried to figure out why God made flies.

From the moment my first child was born, my life has been about my children, and some of those sweet moments can bring me to tears when I think about how fleeting they are.  My kids will get to be little, and they’ll get to have fun.  They are not in a hurry – and neither am I.”

Shoot to Stun

I am relieved that the Supreme Court finally clarified that the Second Amendment permits individual gun ownership and not just for those individuals in a national militia.  However, now that there are non-lethal alternatives readily available on the market, people using their guns in self-defense are going to be under more scrutiny than before. 

The states impose carefully defined limitations (known as “proportionality requirements”) on the use of deadly force in self defense:  a person may use only as much force as is necessary in that immediate situation.  You can defend yourself with deadly force only to prevent death, rape, kidnapping, or bodily injury serious enough to cause long-term loss or impairment.  That gives district attorneys some potential for leeway in filing criminal charges against individuals who have used deadly force to defend themselves.

Interestingly, a non-deadly weapon can be used to defend against any threat of unlawful force, which is why I’ve bought a Taser even though I’ve already taken classes and training in handgun use and safety.  The Taser fires a dart that delivers a painful electrical shock, resulting in an instant and incapacitating muscular spasm that generally gives you about 30 seconds to get out of the situation.  The Taser works anywhere on the attacker’s body; bullets have to hit vulnerable spots to stop a bad guy.

Advanced-model Tasers also allow you to respond from up to 35 feet away.  Using a handgun on an attacker from 35 feet away, however, raises questions as to whether “deadly force” is necessary at such a distance.

My Taser is pink…..couldn’t resist.

Parents Need to Plan…to Be Parents

It used to be that people planned for such important things as marriage, child-bearing, child-rearing, finances, and living arrangements.  Now it seems that these important milestones and responsibilities are quite secondary to impulsive behavior and immediate gratification.  I have been stunned at the growing number of callers who marry without consideration for religion, finances, extended family problems, lifestyle, goals, and even personality differences.

For example, it flabbergasts me to get so many calls from young women complaining about their overbearing mothers-in-law, then admitting that the young couple is living with his mother because they don’t have the wherewithal to take care of themselves.  So, they’re living as a married couple, but also as dependent children in his Mommy’s home, and the wife wonders why she doesn’t have the power at home?

It’s also unbelievable to me that so many couples will marry before either one of them is in the position to support a family, yet they start making babies and then the fights begin — over not having enough money or time to have any freedom, fun or opportunities.

It is not surprising, however, when women call to complain that their bosses are cutting back on maternity leave.  That’s because we’ve become a culture that makes everyone else responsible for our choices.  Maternity leave pay generally comes in the form of six to eight weeks of disability pay, and such payments have been cut back due to economical issues.  According the non-profit Families and Work Institute, only 16% of employers offer full pay for childbirth leave, down from 27% in 1998.  The average maximum length of job-guaranteed leaves for new mothers dropped from 16.1 weeks a decade ago to 15.2 weeks.

The Wall Street Journal’s “Work and Family” column (6/11/08) admits that “This comes despite research showing attentive nurturing has particular developmental power in a baby’s first year, and that longer leaves can ease postpartum depression in some mothers.”  Boy, was I ever glad to see that truth in print.  But when we are grousing about employers extending maternity leave by weeks, whose responsibility is it to maintain at least one full year of hands-on mothering?  The government?  Corporations?  I think not.  The first five years before kindergarten, and not just the first year after birth, are crucial in the emotional, social, and psychological development of children.

Children are not pets, only needing attentive care in case of danger, or who are just fed at one end and cleaned at the other.  Every day, their brains grow and develop, and each day, they experience life and feelings.  Each day offers significant opportunities for a loving and educational interaction with a parent who ought to be experiencing it with them, and supporting them in their explorations.

What is the solution?  Better planning.  I have often suggested that people live on one salary, putting the other in savings and/or conservative investments before they start building a family.  I have suggested that they research areas where they wish to establish their family lives and roots, and make sure they are affordable. 

The point is that when you become parents, you must shift the focus from individual gratification (through career) to group gratification (through family).

Gloucester High Pregnancy Pact

All media outlets recently went “buzzy” over the alleged conspiracy by a group of minor girls to get themselves pregnant.  My immediate concern went to the babies these children were so carelessly producing.  The real issue for me is that the babies are going to be born into troubled circumstances.

It is terribly sad that these children had so little to hold on to and look forward to that they used this as a way to feel connected, important, and/or loved.  I can only hope that their babies will – because of all this critical scrutiny – be adopted into loving two-parent (Mom and Dad), mature, stable marriages and families.  This ultimately is in the best interest of the children.

Potent Pot

The University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 through 2007.  They found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6% in 2007, representing more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983.

John Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy cited “baby boomer parents who might have misguided notions that the drug contains the weaker potency levels of the 1970′s.  Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications for young people – the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.” [AP, 6/12/08]

A report from the Office found that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed – that’s 25% compared to the 12% for non-depressed teenagers.  The study said marijuana use increased the risk (by 40%) of developing mental disorders.

It’s certainly not your Grandma’s pot anymore.