This week’s post is much more uplifting than my last post. My son is now three months old and healthy as a horse; 12 solid pounds, vibrant energy, and a strong appetite. At this moment, I am watching him play and attempting to roll over – it’s a half roll but I imagine he’ll get it within the month. Christina and I regularly change his clothes because of spit up – sometimes we have to change our clothes because of projectile pee. If you have been following our journey, you may be wondering how the cloth diapers are going? Thanks to my in-laws I have a stockpile of disposable diapers that will keep us supplied for at least two months. The hardest point in the last three months was when Christina had to go back to work. Christina is an awesome Mom and a much better caregiver than me – my son is currently glaring at me while I write this blog. We’re trying to balance the transition but Christina is constantly missing her little sweet potato. Christina spent nine years to get her doctorate and her career is something that I wholeheartedly support; that statement may sound funny coming from a stay-at-home dad/philosopher but I believe she is at her best when helping psychiatric patients.
Some highlights of the last month were Teddy’s vaccines and his circumcision. Both occasions left Teddy grumpy, restless, and irritable. The vaccines were a no brainer but I got some flack for the circumcision. People were worried that the procedure could be botched and Teddy’s wiener would be permanently damaged. I am happy to inform everyone that new methods of circumcision are 100% safe – when I say 100%, I mean 100%. There are no knives or sharp objects involved – all they use is a plastic ring and a string. The string goes around the foreskin while the ring protects the penis; after 7 to 14 days the foreskin and ring fall off. Teddy was in discomfort for two days and after that, he was back to his normal self. If in the future he yells at me for defiling his penis I will guide him to procedures that can regrow his foreskin – yes they actually exist. I don’t feel bad about the decision but I wanted to dispel some myths that it is a barbaric/irreversible procedure. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks: – risks that include post-operation infection and minor loss of sensitivity (a debated side effect that in gold-standard studies has been entirely refuted)(source)(source). If this subject interests you, I highly recommend reading the sources provided.
Enough about circumcision. Let’s get to the cute pictures that our photographer took. Teddy continues to grow, mature, and marvel us with his personality and ability to fart hundreds of times a day. If you know a working mom, give her a hug – it is the hardest two jobs in the world. Thank you, Christina, for all you do and thank you, everyone, for the continued words of wisdom.
My friends asked me a couple weeks ago if I was enjoying my time as a father. I hesitated for a moment because a firm “YES!” would have been a complete lie. I couldn’t blurt out a resounding applaud for my son because, at the time, Teddy was going through his 6-week growth spurt; apparently, babies have several growth spurts within the first year. He went from an angelic newborn with predictable sleeping habits to a grumpy-old-man who wants to escape the nursing home. There was nothing we could do to soothe him, and his fussiness tested my patience to the point that I fantasized about sleeping in the garage. The growth spurt lasted a couple of weeks, and we are starting to see some rays of hope. Teddy is now 2 months old and weighs a whopping 11 pounds. We took him in for his first round of vaccinations; he cried a little bit but we promised him ice cream afterward – Christina and I really enjoyed the ice cream.
If my friends asked me today if I enjoyed my time as a father, I would leap up and give them a hug. I know there will be more growth spurts and hard times, but Teddy’s personality is starting to blossom – a big deal to all fathers. Newborn babies stress me out, and you can’t really do much with them because they are asleep 90 percent of the time – either sleeping, eating, or crying. Two-month-old Teddy, on the other hand, enjoys kicking his legs, smiling, and getting his double chin squeezed. It’s not much, but for a father who has no maternal bone in his body, it is a big step towards one day throwing a baseball or talking about Plato. I find it interesting the difference between men and women during the baby phase. Christina is always on the verge of tears thinking of Teddy becoming a man. I, on the other hand, am excited about those formidable years of Teddy’s maturity.
Of course, we both are going to enjoy the journey, but it is definitely apparent which part of that journey best fits our personality. Christina is an amazing Mom, and she could probably nurture a rabid dog to sleep. My forte is being a coach and motivator – attributes which don’t kick in until much later. This points to a key philosophical concept. Children need both masculinity and feminity while growing up – the Ying and Yang of parenthood. There is a lot of arguments over sex and gender in today’s world, but I don’t believe anyone can argue that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a village of people because men and women bring unique gifts to the table of life. There is a big problem today of men leaving their families; a father or male role-model is essential. Consider the following stats…
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
- 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
- 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]
To find out more information about fatherless households go to the National Fatherhood Initiative
Some of these stats are from the 20th century but the findings today show the same detrimental pattern. We need good men to help raise the next generation of children – and I hope to be enlisted in that pursuit. So the next time my friends ask me how I am enjoying my fatherhood…I will try not to hesitate too long :).
Guess the context…”They found a two-year-old boy whose treatable kidney tumor weighed six pounds and a twelve-year-old girl whose bone cancer was the size of a watermelon. They found a two-year-old girl who had accidentally inhaled a small piece of a banana…turned blue and died…They found a twenty-three-year-old woman who had come to an emergency room after fifty-six hours of active labor because her baby’s head was stuck at the vaginal opening. The dead baby, delivered by caesarian section, ‘was in an advanced stage of decomposition.’ The mother died within hours from puerperal sepsis: a bloodstream infection. The coroner noted that ‘the corpse of the infant was so foul smelling that is was inconceivable that anyone attending the delivery could not have noticed…Swan and Asser also found children who had died from treatable bacterial infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. A one-year-old girl named Eva Swanson died of sepsis after she had accidentally spilled a pot of scalding tea on herself. A fifteen-month-old boy named Dustin Gilmore ‘was deafened, blinded and killed’ by meningitis…” Is this list of atrocious medical outcomes from a third-world country? Maybe it is from an isolated area where there are no medical treatments available? Sadly, all of these examples occurred in the United States within the last 20 years and are only a few instances of hundreds that occur every year. How could this happen in a country where there is relatively easy access to vaccines, antibiotics, and children’s hospitals? Paradoxically, the cause of all these unfortunate stories was religion and more specifically certain Christian denominations which do not believe in modern medicine.
I learned about these unfortunate truths in the book Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine by Paul A. Offit, M.D. In total, there are 23 Christian denominations that practice faith healing with 5 sects accounting for most adult and child deaths due to avoidance of medical treatments: Christian Science, Church of the First Born, End Time Ministries, Faith Assemble, and Faith Tabernacle. In general, these sects reject medicine because it is a product of man and believe that having illnesses is a test of faith. These denominations literally interpret verses like Mark 11:24: Whatever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. These ardent beliefs come from the common stand of many Christian denominations that their interpretations of the Holy Bible are correct and subsequently God looks favorably on them now and in Heaven. These literal interpretations lead to using prayer as the only treatment for a medical illness. For example, imagine my son had diabetes and needed insulin to survive. Instead of getting a vial of insulin and giving it to my son I would hold a prayer group over him while he threw up and suffered until eventually dying. I would rationalize that God wanted my son to die, that God is punishing me for my sins, and/or I didn’t have enough faith in God’s healing powers.
How the heck could a parent let their child die when they call themselves a Christian? First off, Jesus loved children and said in Mark 9:27:”Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” As a Christian, the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the zeitgeist of Christianity! If there is a way to save an individual within reasonable means then every effort should be taken to provide that help. Modern medicine is not the work of the devil or an avenue taken by unbelievers-modern medicine is the result of great thinkers throughout time. God created those great-thinking brains and thus gave us the ability to invent and the resources to better help people. The other side of this unbelievable coin is the government allowing it to happen. 45 states permit the medical neglect of children if the parents have justifiable religious reasons. Religious freedom cannot trump the inalienable right to life which is taken away from children by these laws. Children are protected by the 14th amendment which says that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This medical neglect is outlawed in many countries and it is time for the US to actually follow the constitution when it comes to protecting children’s lives. In the end, Christians please remember the greatest commandment, recognize the dangers of myopic religious beliefs, and don’t use prayer as a complete substitute for medical care.