Monthly Archives: April 2009

Equality for All

I was actually going to hold off on this topic for a while. But with the recent progress made in marriage equality across the United States, I can’t think of a better time to discuss this issue, and how millennials can discuss it with their children.

And no doubt millennials (and their under-40 cohorts) are supporting gay marriage at record-high percentages. In the most recent CBS/NYTimes Poll, 31% of those polled over age 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57% of those under age 40 supported gay marriage. Only 19% of those under 40 opposed any legal recognition of gay couples, in comparison to 35% over 40.

My wife and I are, undoubtedly, pro-gay marriage. None of this civil union stuff, but full marriage equality. The same rights afforded to a man and a woman. And no doubt, that as more and more millennials enter the voting ranks, marriage equality is within reach.

And, as my wife and I are demonstrating, these millennials will soon be bringing their own offspring into the world. We were each raised in families that, more or less, didn’t really talk about homosexuality that much. I somewhat remember realizing that it existed all on my own, and not because of a conversation I had with my parents.

We want our children to know that marriage can exist between a man and a woman. But also that marriage should be afforded to two men or two women. If millennials truly want to change the landscape of our social environment, to ensure that gays are treated equal in all aspects of life, including marriage, than it is up to us to change the way we teach our children.

By helping our children understand the many different lifestyles in American culture, we can create school environments that are inclusive, we can end bullying of gay students, and most of all, we can send a message to our children that is it okay to be gay, that no matter what lifestyle they choose, straight, gay, etc., that they will have parents that support their choice.

Marriage equality is finally within the grasp of our nation. It has started with millennials, and will finally be achieved in cooperation with our children.

Week 26

Your baby nows weighs a full two pounds and measures nine-plus inches. And this week, his eyes, which until now were developing under fused eyelids, start to open. Of course, there’s not much to see in there, but if your baby spots a bright light (or hears a loud noise) near your belly, you may notice an increase in fetal activity.

Also wanted to give a shout-out to those visiting the blog from BabyCenter.com this week. The increase in traffic to the site has been definitely noticed and appreciated!

Child/Pet Bonding

The wife and I are big animal lovers. No doubt about that. We send money to two charity causes annually…diabetes awareness and animals. We each grew up with pets (we’re sorta ‘dog people’ but we really love all animals), and, we currently have a two-almost-three year-old puggle. We’re not radical about our beliefs. We still eat meat, we don’t throw red dye on people wearing fur, but our hearts hurt deeply for animals in shelters, and for those that are lost, abused, and neglected. We volunteer our time at a local animal shelter, just to show the dogs there that people really do care about them, and that finding them a happy home is priority number one.

It just seems a no-brainer that we want Parker to  love animals as much as we do. But more importantly, we want him to understand and respect animals and their rights.  We want Parker to understand that Cookie is just as much a part of our family as he is, and for Cookie to know that Parker is a new member.

From what we’ve discussed, incorporating Parker into our care of Cookie will help him better understand Cookie, and also help Cookie know that Parker is another person that will provide for her. Early on, most of their interaction will be natural, such as smelling, licking, and touching. But as Parker grows, tasks such as feeding, playing, and even walking can be incorporated, until they each develop a firm understanding of their roles in the family.

In all, the goal is not just to develop a friendship between our son and our dog, but truly to foster a sense of responsibility for animals in Parker. To realize that animals don’t have the capability to fight for themselves, that we are their protectors and their voice. To be outraged at those who neglect and abuse animals. And hopefully, he will one day want to donate his own time and energy to sticking up for animals.

And as always, if you are considering getting a pet, visit your local animal shelter.

Week 25

Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, reaching nine inches in length and passing the pound and a half mark. Under his skin, capillaries are forming and filling with blood and by week’s end, air sacs (also lined with capillaries) will develop in his lungs, getting them ready for that first breath. Mind you, those lungs aren’t ready for prime time just yet — but they are developing surfactant, a substance that will help them expand after birth. And speaking of breathing, your baby’s tiny nostrils, which have been plugged up until now, are starting to open and his vocal chords are getting ready to roar.

Civitas

Civic participation.

It’s what I consider the foundation of America, of all democracies. The right, the obligation, to take part in the process. Voting. Protesting. Writing your elected representatives. Running for office. In a country where, even in the most popular presidential election in decades, only 61% of the eligible population votes, it is even more necessary that we pass on the importance of civic participation to our children.

My wife and I were raised in politically-active households. My grandfather was a county commissioner for 16 years. My in-laws are involved in a variety of special interest groups. I think as parents, it’s important that our children not only understand the importance of civic participation, but can look to us as examples.

Taking them into a polling booth, talking with them about current events, encouraging them to care about policy and how it affects them and their family; just some of the ways to teach our children the importance of exercising their rights as an American citizen.

I hope to take my children to Washington, D.C., to the Ohio Statehouse, to answer their questions about current events, to make them active participants in the civic process. Civic apathy is all to common in our country, but it starts with parents. And the earlier we can help institute these values in our children, then perhaps, just perhaps, we can create a better citizenry for the future.

My child can be Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, or independent. It doesn’t matter to me, so long as he understands the importance of participation.

And can at least hold his ground in arguments with me.

Week 24

Your baby is about eight and a half inches long and one and a half pounds, gaining steadly at a rate of six ounces per week. Much of that weight comes from accumulating baby fat, as well as from growing organs, bones, and muscle. By now, that fabulous face is almost fully formed, complete with eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair. Is your baby a brunette, blond, or a redhead? Actually, right now, his locks are white since there’s no pigment yet.

Also, this past weekend, we went through all the baby clothes from my wife’s family (seeing as three boys have already gone through). I think it’s safe to say Parker has enough clothes to last him through 2011.

Religious Upbringing

According to a 2001 survey, only 18% of 18-29 year olds attended religious service every week. Jeffrey Arnett’s book Emerging Adulthood revealed that only 23% of young people considered themselves “conservative believers” while the remaing 77% were agnotistic/atheist, deist, or liberal believers (or people who believe in a religion but questions some aspects of it).

A recent study published noted that religious identification has fallen 10 percentage points in our country since 1990 and, behind Catholics and Baptist, the largest single identifying group is “None.” There could be many reasons, of course, for the decline in religious identification in our country, and especially among millennials, some of which include the overall value of “self” in the millennial generation and identification with social and political values that put themselves at odds with many churches, such as gay marriage and reproductive rights.

No matter the case, my wife and I form a mixed Christian couple. She is Roman Catholic, I am Protestant. This day in age, mixed couples are not uncommon, and in fact are becoming increasingly prevalent amongst Catholics. I know that a fair amount of mixed couples have chosen to raise their children in both churches, but we feel that, since my wife identifies more with the Catholic Church than I with any Protestant church, it would be best to raise our child Catholic.

I feel that, in a way, millennials have become more open to religion, rather than choosing to identify with any one religion or denomination. Beyond the advent of  ‘non-denominational’ churches, it seems that fewer and fewer millennials are relying on religion to base their personal beliefs on a variety of social and political issues. Rather, Christian millennials are making religion personal, and seeing it more as a direct link to God, and less as a ‘guide to life’.

As my dad once said to me, “Christianity fails when believers start getting in arguments about the little things, rather than seeing the the big picture.” We bother with the little things, like the age of the Earth, the theory of evolution, and how the Bible views issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and women’s rights, or how we can use the Bible to justify our positions, rather than worrying about what really matters.

We hope that is it in this spirit that our child will grow in his Christianity and learn that religion isn’t meant to be followed blindly, but rather questioned and fostered in his own way.

Week 23

Your partner is now in her six month and your baby is about to chub up a little bit. His saggy skin will now begin to fit his frame as fat deposits fill things out. Beginning this week, he’ll start to pack on the pounds and by the month’s end, he’ll be double the weight he is now. Right now, your baby’s organs and bones are visible through his skin, which has a red hue due to developing veins and arteries beneath. But once those fat deposits settle in, he’ll become less transparent, too.

And not a moment too soon. His last ultrasound photo looked like some sort of creepy anatomy skeleton.