New Internationalist

No Kidding

Issue 164

new internationalist
issue 164 - October 1986

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Children are children; adults are adults. These pages are
for NI readers who don't fit into either of these categories.

[image, unknown] We often think it's tough at home or kids. But one of the main reasons for this is the problems that our parents have. Making life better for them would make life better for us. For instance.
Illustrations: Bud Handelsman
MINUS SIX MONTHS...

[image, unknown] Mother comes last: My mother is so busy looking after everyone else, she feels really guilty and ashamed if she even thinks of looking after herself. But sacrificing herself can cause problems for me - even before I've been born.

She feeds everyone else first - herself last and least. And that means I don't get fed enough. My life is being risked here, though no-one seems to realise that.

10 million babies are born malnourished every year
because their mothers did not have enough to eat.

UNICEF; State of the World's Children


MINUS ONE MONTHS...

[image, unknown] Birth after birth: There are signs of recent occupation here. My mother shouldn't be expected to produce a baby every year. It wears her out and it cuts down our chances of survival. And I don't wasn't to survive if I lose her!

If all births were spaced at least two years apart, infant mortality would be reduced by 10 per cent and child mortality by 16 per cent.

Sandra L Huffman, Mothers and Children


FIRST SIX MONTHS...

[image, unknown] Breast is best and cheapest: Well, now I'm born I hope someone will make her eat properly - she needs the extra food to make breastmilk for me. Oh no! She's cutting down again. At this rate, I'll end up with grandma giving me a bottle. The most absurd part f this is that my mother is cutting down on her food mostly to save up money to buy me bottle-milk powder. Some fool has persuaded her that it's best for babies. I wish she'd realise that nothing in a bottle could ever be as delicious and nutritious as her own milk.

Bottle-fed babies are three times as likely to get diarrhoea and twice as likely to catch respiratory infections - the two main causes of infant death - as breast fed babies.

A M Maisse-Raimbault, Children in the Tropics, no 138


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TWO YEARS OLD.

All work and no play: Oh no, she's left me. She has to earn money for us, she says. Her employer didn't even give her time off to breastfeed. He wouldn't dream of giving her leave to recover from childbirth and to spend time with me. I wish someone would explain to employers and governments that it's not just rich babies who suffer 'maternal deprivation'. Or 'paternal'. Dad would do. But I can't do with neither!

In Europe, 35 per cent of married women go out to work

Women: A World Report, Methuen


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FOUR YEARS OLD.

No bedside manners for the poor: I'm sick - at both ends. The clinic is miles away and my mum has to take a whole day off work. We wait for hours, and then no-one pays attention to what she says because she's not educated and not very confident with these doctors. I'm really angry they treat my mum like this. She's worth ten of them but they treat her like an object - and me too.

Health workers in developing countries, worried that child health
records would get lost if mothers kept them at home, found the loss
rate in fact fell below one per cent - less than in many clinics.

David Morley and Margaret Woodland, See How They Grow, Macmillan.


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EIGHT YEARS OLD.

Schools for assertiveness: My brother is starting school. Grandma says I'm selfish to want to study, that it would only give me a big head - but the only person she listens to is my aunt who went to school. My aunt's the only one who dares talk back. She brings up our cousins just as she wants to - and her baby sister. I want to have self-respect and confidence like her.

A study of 25 countries showed that giving all mothers seven or more years of education lowered infant and child mortality by an average of 41 per cent.

James Trussell and Anne R. Debley, Stuidies in Famiy Planning, vol 15 no. 6


SIXTEEN YEARS OLD

Mischannelled energy: Dad just lost his job. He says he can't take in washing like mum does when she's out of work because that's only fit for women. Mum says a man needs his pride. I wish he'd put his pride to better use then! Like fighting redundancy, or stopping the government cutting back first on welfare services. It's tempting to despise him. But he despises himself more than I ever could. If he had more self-respect and hope, he might despair less and rage in the right direction. I suppose he feels that if he lost his macho image, he'll have lost everything.

In the UK, the 'head of the household' is defines as the person
who pays for, or owns, most of the home - unless that person is
a wife; in which case, the husband can still be the 'head'.

UK government, General Household Survey

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NINETEEN YEARS OLD.

[image, unknown] Starting next cycle: I'm going to be a parent soon. And my children are gong to need me. Not just in practical ways, like feeding them and giving them medicine, but also in giving them love and a feeling they are special. And I don't want them to harm themselves, so I'll also be strict.

And to do what I need for them, I also need to do certain things for myself, like having enough rest and food. I need to be paid properly when I work so that I can also have time off, not work all the time. And when I have some time off, I shouldn't find all the housework still waiting for me to so. Everyone will have to help.

Most of all, it's time I'll need. Time to enjoy my children - play with them, get to know them, not just do mechanical things for them. Time to enjoy my husband, to know what he believes about life. And most of all time to enjoy becoming and being myself. perhaps then I'll have something really important to give my children, my real self.

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