Posts Tagged ‘children’

Happiness and Choice

Some recent evidence suggests that people may be happier when they have fewer choices. Barry Schwartz ( in a recent TED Talk discusses the “paradox” of choice in the Western culture. While we tout our personal freedoms as a trait to be emulated in the world, it is something that, according to Schwartz, actually “paralyzes” us. We often end up regretting our choices and always looking for ways to maximize our happiness without ever being satisfied with the choices we do make. Additionally, he argues that often we are not well equipped to be making complex decisions at all. Dan Gilbert (, in his TED Talk, discusses a similar topic and presents research that supports his theories. In his talk, he states that, after one year, research shows that a paraplegic and a lottery winner are about the same level of happiness. He expounds on this point and concludes that human beings can be truly happy in extraordinary circumstances as an adaptive measure.

My parents often reminisce about their childhood and how they were happy with just one toy when they were kids and could not believe the overabundance of “stuff” that children have in modern day America. They also look at me incredulously when I ask them if they were “happy” with some of the conditions in which they grew up and respond: “We did not have a choice” implying, of course, that they were happy because they had no other option.

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11 2011

American Birthing: Part II

Approximately one in three women in the United States who give birth this year will end up with a major abdominal surgery.  The caesarian section (c-section) will leave many women with outcomes that are often not disclosed to them before, during, or after their pregnancy.  Some of these outcomes include (but are not limited to not limited to) hemorrhage, infection, decreased fertility, difficulty with breastfeeding, complications with future pregnancies, reduced early contact with baby, longer hospital stay, increased pain, and long recovery (1).

In a previous article, I discussed the model of birthing in The Netherlands where midwives possess most of the power and influence in obstetrics and one-third of women give birth in their homes.  The basic premise of birthing as a natural process seems to be a foreign concept to many Americans.  Our hospitals are deliberately modeled to promote unnecessary and often risky interventions to the birthing woman and her baby.  Fetal monitors limit movement and are often inaccurate, IV fluids provide women with little control over their own body’s cues, epidurals numb the body and increase the risk of other harmful interventions, and artificial oxytocin (i.e., pitocin) leave women with contractions that are extremely painful and difficult to bear.  Women are often pressured to have the baby within a certain time frame, otherwise, they are threatened with interventions due to “failure to progress.”  Then, because women are connected to machines, their mobility is restricted, and they are forced to lie down on their backs to give birth.  This position is not only the most painful position in which to give birth, but it is also the most ineffective and restrictive to oxygen and blood flow (2). Read the rest of this entry →



12 2010

Where is a Woman’s Place?

Usually it’s right in front of the stove, stirring away. Or chasing a child around the house.

In many cultures, a woman is hardly thought of as the one doing anything important or worthwhile. In fact it is often joked about, usually in sitcoms.

Husband coming home from work: I am so tired.
Wife: No kidding. Me too.
Husband to wife: Why you? You were home all day. How can you be tired?
Wife: Uh, I was potty training Junior. Then I washed clothes and folded laundry. Later, I had to pick up the kids from school, do grocery shopping, mail a package, then run back home to start dinner.
Husband: Yeah, but that’s your job.
Wife: (Evil glare.)

I grew up with a stay-at-home mom. She was always there and always doing the typical “mom” things: cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc. So it felt a bit odd when I became the full-time professional and soon had my own child. I became something I had never known: I became a working mom. I swore I would never do it, but I loved my job as an editor. I also had a trustworthy babysitter – my stay-at-home mom.
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10 2010

On Raising Children in the West: Reflections of a Muslim Mother

My mom often tells me that she thinks raising children is getting harder with each generation.  She is horrified by how different my generation is from hers.  As societies become more individualized and stress the importance of the nuclear family over collective styles of living, we face unique issues that previous generations dealt with in a different way.  There are problems of drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and violence that plague our schools and youth today.  These modern crises seem to be affecting children at a progressively younger age.

As new Muslim parents, my husband and I often discuss the problems we will encounter when trying to raise our daughter.  All of the issues of violence and the overt sexualization of youth are on our minds, yet we also face the complexity of being a minority in America; a much hated minority in many parts of the country.  I personally embrace my identity as a Muslim in America, but I also acknowledge that it is becoming more difficult for Muslims to do so with every passing day.  Hate crimes are on the rise in American culture and there is a pervasive feeling of Muslims being the “Other” in mainstream society.

I know my daughter right now has no way of understanding that her parents are “different”.  Once she begins to realize that her Muslim identity sets her apart from her peers, what are the developmentally appropriate methods of helping her to embrace her identity from an early age?  How can I teach her to be proud of who she is while still accepting other people’s life choices?  How can I hold her to Islamic moral standards while helping her to understand that she can not be judgmental of others?
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09 2010