Archive | Opinions/Philosophy RSS feed for this section

Healthy Happy Hour

25 Jun

When my toddler helps empty the recycling and holds up a bottle saying “Mama beer?” I feel a motherly pang. However, when I search my conscience I realize that I’d rather my child find beer bottles than pop cans. She sees the adults around her cook and eat healthy foods and enjoy snacks in moderation. She watches us drink water and coffee and beer/wine (and occasionally cocktails, which is her only reference point for juice). We’re healthy, loving, responsible grownups who actively engage with smart, physically active kids. Even digging deep into my mom psyche, I can’t feel guilty about alcohol being part of our lifestyle.

I didn’t drink while I was pregnant. I intended to, but as it happened I had a huge aversion to alcohol–that’s actually how I realized I was pregnant. My pregnancy nausea was moderate but persistent and pretty much everything except really spicy teriyaki set me off for a very long time. After the nausea was (mostly) resolved, even smelling alcohol made me queasy. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy a glass of wine with my sweetie and a little relieved I didn’t have to deal with people giving me dirty looks while I drank it. Both scientific evidence and several thousands of generations of humans (including our own) show that it’s safe for the average pregnant woman to consume some amount of alcohol without causing serious harm to her fetus. There are always exceptions and I’m not here to debate the issue–though you’re free to do so.

This post in The Awl is a lovely summary of how morally/emotionally fuzzy the issue of drinking while pregnant can be: “Moderation has served me well in life up to this point and I’d like to think that I have good instincts. What are instincts in a pregnancy, though? We’re told to listen to the voice inside of us that says when it’s time to relax and take it easy, when it’s time to call the doctor. But my instincts also led me to think I know my body well enough to know how to treat it when I’m pregnant which includes drinking. Which is or isn’t wrong. So should I not have listened to myself? Or listen at some times and not others?”

The science on drinking while nursing is much more clear and the evidence is overwhelming that moderate alcohol consumption does not harm a breastfed infant.. Alcohol content in breast milk is the same as alcohol blood volume (ABV). Even if your ABV is high enough to impair your ability to drive a car, your breastmilk will not significantly harm your baby. Alcohol inhibits production and some studies show that babies will refuse the breast if significant amounts of alcohol are present in the milk. If you’re pumping and storing milk, there’s a chance you’ll expose the baby to more total alcohol than if you’re nursing directly. There is no need to or benefit from pumping milk & disposing of it. “Pump & dump” does not clear your system of alcohol.

Here’s the bigger picture: if you’re drunk enough that you’re seriously worried about alcohol content of your milk, you’re probably too drunk to safely & responsibly parent. Forget about nursing–you probably shouldn’t be holding an infant or caring for a young child alone. If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption (amount and/or frequency) talk to your health care provider–not your pediatrician.

I’m not joking when I say beer makes me a better parent. When I’ve had a beer, I’m more relaxed and find it easier to let the little things (messy play, a little whining) go. When I’ve had a beer, I can laugh more freely and forget how irritated I was about the kid not napping or the rice burning.  Continue reading

Parenting while distracted

14 Jun

The Prime Minister of England forgot his kid in a pub. It’s international news.  Because the location happened to be a pub instead of a tea shop, tongues are wagging doubletime. I highly doubt this incident had anything to do with alcohol consumption–both parents were probably sober enough.When you think about it, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often. 3 kids in 2 cars with lots of extra adults milling about is a setup for forgetting someone.

Let’s focus on how Cameron’s policies affect all kids in England, not on how his 8 year old daughter spent 15 minutes waiting for her parents to collect her from a pub.

Parenting is a job

25 May

I may not get benefits or L&I protection, but at least OSHA can’t keep me from drinking at my job site-. Unlike these guys, who are are going to have a rough time. Sounds like they’ll at least remain employed. I’m only slightly concerned their alcohol consumption may create a safety hazard, though it sounds like they’re not the most discreet consumers of alcohol on the market. They might be less than responsible in other aspects of their job. Who knows? It’s not as interesting a story to investigate if they’re actually doing a good job and may have been celebrating at work. Maybe there’s real news here, maybe it’s just a chance for reporters to collect comments on a story. Let’s all hope that the 520 bridge will be okay.

I often joke that beer makes us better parents, and I believe this can be true. Moderate alcohol consumption is a part of our culture, and social drinking is an opportunity to relax and connect. Booze can help us unwind and give us a little perspective on how important the kid’s undesirable behavior really is. It tastes good. I like it.

All jokes aside, drink responsibly. Model the kind of behavior you hope to see when your kid (almost inevitably) explores alcohol. Buy good beer. Recycle your bottles & cans. Don’t drive or parent drunk. Engage your friends if you’re concerned about their habits–ask directly how they are and tell them if you think you see a problem. Be responsive and thoughtful if someone engages you. If it’s a matter of a teetotaler judging your beer-a-night habit, feel free to let them know you appreciate their concern but you respectfully disagree. (Or tell them to go to hell–your call.) If it’s a matter of a close friend sharing their concern that you always have a drink in your hand…well, pay attention.

Alcohol addiction and outright inebriation are unsafe and unhealthy for the individual, their family and friends, and the greater community. Please, drink responsibly. Be happy, not stupid.

Save the sitter for banjo lessons

24 May

I love going out without my kid sometimes. We all need a break, and couples definitely benefit from time to connect without distraction. That said, families don’t have to live on boxed pasta or fast food while kids are young.

Seattle Times food writer Rebekeh Denn misses the point in her list of 10 restaurants to not bring your kid. Denn’s recent article “Get a sitter — please — for these 10 great date-night restaurants” suggests that parents can’t enjoy good food (much less good wine) with their kids around.

The chefs of at least a couple of the eateries disagree. I don’t have much to add to Jason Wilson’s (chef at Crush) comment:

“I think that adults can often be as mis-behaved as some children in restaurants, but a family enjoying dinner together trumps any assumption of formality, its a very important part of our culture,” he said.

There’s a “should” missing from that statement. Family enjoying dinner together should be an important part of our culture. Unfortunately, as Denn’s article makes clear, it’s not. Kids should be included at the family table and should be able to enjoy a variety of foods. When we exclude them and limit their diet, how will that ever happen?

Pit of despair

23 May

While Vios on Capitol Hill is often quite delightful and the public space in Lake Forest Park Third Place has many charms, most of the time I avoid eateries that cater to parents by creating an area dedicated to small children (aka kid pits). I hate kid pits. Not because they’re germy. Not because the toys are often broken. Not even because every single place I’ve ever visited that has a kid pit is usually crazy loud and staffed by martyrs who may have once enjoyed children but now can barely make eye contact with a parent. (Though all these things are, sadly, true.)

I hate kid pits because there is a subset of parents who use their existence as an opportunity to avoid parenting. Parents who bring their children out to eat and expect to be able to ignore them. Parents who allow their children to shout, destroy things, beat on other kids and create a moving obstacle course for servers and other parents to avoid. People who bring special food into a restaurant and do not order or tip accordingly. Sure, sometimes you need to bust out the raisin stash to keep a child happy while you’re waiting for the appetizer. However, if your child can’t/won’t eat anything sold at the establishment, maybe you shouldn’t bring her there. At the very least, ask your server if outside food is permitted.  Also, please consider ordering something extra for takeout.  (Obvious exception for babies not yet on solids.)

If you want your child to enjoy dining out and to be enjoyable companions, it takes effort. Going out with kids under 10 means compromise: eating earlier (and faster), leaving before you’re really ready, bringing toys, cleaning up your mess. It means tipping better and encouraging your children to say hello, thank you, and goodbye. Parenting in public is hard, and sometimes unrewarding. It’s also critical in helping your kid become a functional member of society–totally worth the effort. I avoid kid pits because they give my kid a chance to observe (and, god forbid, practice) exactly the opposite of how we want her to behave.