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God has blessed me tremendously with an amazing husband, Doug, and two gorgeous little boys, Gavin and Joey. It has always been a dream of mine to have a large family but God may have other plans. I had a series of 6 consecutive early miscarriages when trying for baby #2. We are currently trying for baby #3 after our 7th miscarriage. I am faithful that God's plan is perfect, even when I am not happy about it. I love comments and meeting new followers so please don't be shy!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Joneses Can Shove It!

When I was in high school we had to write a thesis paper on any topic we chose. I would love to be able to find that paper. The general topic was causes of Autism. This would have been written in the early 1990's when Autism was just starting to become a more well known diagnosis. The very limited books that dared talk about what causes autism speculated that it was either physiological or environmental. Most often it was the mother that was picked on in the latter explanation. As I wrote that paper, now nearly 20 years ago, (wow... I am getting old) I had to believe that it was physiological. Wires got crossed somehow. There were too many loving, caring, sweet moms out there who were dealing with a child with Autism. It couldn't have been lack of love.

Now, 20 years later, with 2 children of my own and seeing more and more speculation of what causes autism including vaccinations and household cleaning supplies, I have found myself thinking about this topic again. The rates of diagnosed Autism "increased dramatically since the 1980s" according to Wikipedia. That made me wonder what else was going on in the 1980's that could directly impact children. The second wave of the women's movement started in the 1960's and was winding down in the 1980's. Women had read their copy of The Feminine Mystique and realized that they didn't have to be "stuck" at home. They felt like they were finally living the life that they had always dreamed. They got to got to work outside the home, be taken seriously in the workplace, and make competitive wages in the job of their choice. These are all good things, right?

In 1976, the phrase "Keeping up With the Joneses" was reintroduced by way of an article on parenting styles. Mother's were less concerned about tarnishing the family name and more concerned about making sure their child had all of the "things" that the other kids had. I am guessing that this is when kids learned to use the phrase, "Everybody else has one." or "Johnny's mom got him one!" Consumerism took over as the priority and mothering took a backseat. So, in order to make sure that they could buy all of the thingamabobs and thingamajigs that the neighbors did, they had to work. Who had time to take care of the babies?
At a very young age, sometimes at just a few months old, these babies had to be handed over to someone else to feed them, hold them, and change diapers during working hours. Sometime it would be many different "someones" over the course of the first years. At the most fragile developmental stages of a young infants life, we ask them to form attachments to many caregivers. Many different arms, smells, smiles, faces, eyes, and mom is just one of many people who feed them, burp them, and hold them. Then, when the child should be developing socially, we are surprised when they aren't sure who to trust, who to look at, who to talk to. They choose what has been the safest environment to them. What has always been consistent. The world within their own heads.

I am not trying to say that all children that went to daycare have Autism. I am not saying that all children that have moms who stay home, will not. I just find it to be a very interesting correlation that the feminist movement was getting women out into the work force, consumerism was keeping them there, and the diagnosis of Autism increased.

I recognize that this is something that could never be proven or disproven since there are so many variables that cannot be controlled. I just think that it is worth thinking about. If you are on the fence about staying home with your child or returning to work, think about how very important you are to your baby and his/her development. It isn't just ensuring that you baby gets food and sleep at the right times so that you can afford the thingamajigs. It is about always being the one who responds to your babies cries and teaching them that no matter what, they can always expect you to make them feel better. I know that sometimes a woman has to work in order to put food on the table, as in a single parent family, but please prioritize your child's mental health over your own, especially in those very important developmental years.


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