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TOPIC: parenting

Society

Can Men Help Breastfeed Their Children?

In a tribe in central Africa, male and female roles are practically interchangeable in caregiving to children. Even though their lifestyle might sound strange to the West, it offers important life lessons about who raises children — and how.

The southwestern regions of the Central African Republic and the northern Republic of Congo are home to the Aka, a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers who, from a Western point-of-view, are surprising because male and female roles are practically interchangeable.

Though women remain the primary caregivers, what is interesting is that their society has a level of flexibility virtually unknown to ours.

While the women hunt, the men care for the children; while the men cook, the women decide where to settle, and vice versa. This was observed by anthropologist Barry Hewlett, a professor at Washington State University, who lived for long periods alongside the tribe. “It is the most egalitarian human society possible,” Hewlett said in an interview.

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Three-Parent Families Emerging From Legal Limbo In Argentina

Multi-parent families or triple parenting are not yet enshrined in the law in Argentina, a continental pioneer of innovative social rights, but so far and in spite of legal challenges, court rulings have recognized the reality of children with "three parents."

BUENOS AIRES — A woman writes to her children before dying, unwilling to keep a painful secret any longer. On reading her letter, the children realize that the father who had raised them, wasn't their biological father.

Before such situations, Argentina's judiciary usually determines a state of "triple filiation," meaning that a person can have two mothers and a father or two fathers and a mother.

There are 25 such multi-parent families, found in and around Buenos Aires, as well as several provinces including Santa Fe, Tucumán and Córdoba. Each one is quite different.

The first two cases were from 2015, just before a reform to the Civil and Commercial Code went into effect. The adults in question did not take legal action to be recognized as multi-parent families, but the civil courts of the capital and the Buenos Aires province took decisions to resolve their situations.

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A Deaf Child's Struggle, A Taste For Simple Things

"It’s just that all the hardships he has faced have made him more appreciative of the simple things — he’s happier than us."

When Pasquale was told that his newborn son was deaf, his world fell apart.

He held that long-awaited and longed-for baby in his arms and cried, not even daring to look him in the eye.

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Colonialism Of Childbirth: How Racism Slammed Into My Surrogacy Experience

In Mexico, it's common to hear the term "improving the race" when a darker skinned person dates someone who is white. The author came directly in contact with these prejudices — and Spain's discrimination of people from its former colonies — when she went through surrogacy.

On my 26th birthday, my black, lesbian artist friend Kara Lynch gave me Angela Davis' autobiography. Together with Lynch and several artists and writers from the borderlands of Tijuana and the United States, we formed the first openly feminist collective in Baja California, Mexico, in 2002 — the Interdisiplinario la Línea. We wanted to make visible the work of great undiscovered Mexican writers and artists.

When she handed me the book, I remember Lynch telling me that it was an indispensable text “for us, as women of color”. At first, I didn't understand if her "we" was really for me.

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Society
Sukanya Shantha

India Faces Eternally Complex Child-Care Question: What To Do With Kids Of Women Prisoners

While growing up inside a prison leads to a range of difficulties for children, those separated from their mothers and left on the outside also face different traumas. In this in-depth reportage for India's The Wire, journalist Sukanya Shantha talks to mothers who had to give birth in jail and those who went without seeing their children for years to keep them protected.

MUMBAI — Raginibai was at the construction site when a large police search team came looking for her. Her husband was found brutally murdered, and his body — wrapped in a jute bag — had been buried several feet under the construction debris close by. The police suspected that Raginibai, along with a man they claimed was her “lover,” was involved in the murder. Raginibai denied this charge vehemently.

But at that moment, neither her husband’s death nor the police’s suspicion could unsettle her. The well-being of her five-year-old son, who shadowed her everywhere at the construction site in Taloja, on the outskirts of Mumbai, was all that she worried about.

Raginibai, a landless migrant labourer and a Dalit woman from Kalahandi — one of the most backward districts in the eastern Indian state of Odisha — feared that the police would take her child away and she would never be able to see him again. In desperation, she requested that the police hand her child over to a person she claimed was her sister. This was a claim that the police was legally bound to — yet never bothered to — independently ascertain.

Raginibai was arrested on November 15, 2019. She was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to a girl, her third child, inside an overcrowded Kalyan district jail, over 50 km away from Mumbai city.

Her eldest, a 12-year-old daughter, was away at Raginibai’s mother’s house in Odisha at the time of the arrest. With no parental support or financial backing, her daughter had to drop out of school and is now being forced into child labor in a paddy field, many kilometers outside her village.

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LGBTQ Plus
Rosario Marina

What Life Is Like As A Trans Father

News coverage about trans fathers tends to be sensationalist. In Argentina, a group of trans dads founded a network to fight the stigma and raise awareness of their struggles.

BUENOS AIRES — Santiago Merlo was putting his daughter Lola to bed on a recent Tuesday night. “There were so many times I thought no one would love me. That trans people were not worthy of love," said the 46-year-old from the Argentine city of Córdoba. "And look at me now, building a wonderful family.”

Yes, today, Santiago is a proud trans dad.

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Society
Jessica Berthereau

Parental Burnout Is Real — And Taking Leave Is Not An Option

Burnout doesn't just occur in the workplace. Pressured by unrealistic perfectionism and a cult of performance, parents are also increasingly affected by a similar weight at home that becomes too much to bear. Here's how to recognize the symptoms and act before before it's too late.

PARIS — “My story is long," Esther says in a soft voice, as if to apologize in advance. But every detail counts as she speaks: the difficult delivery, which ended in a large hemorrhage; the complicated beginnings of her breastfeeding; a baby who cried continuously; chaotic nights…

"One day, when she was about a year-and-a-half old, things calmed down a bit and, most importantly, we let go. I think I was already in burnout, but nobody was aware of it. I wanted to succeed so much; I wanted it to last so much," recalls the dance teacher, whose job forces her to practice at night. "And then we decided to have a second one. We said to ourselves that each child is different... And then again, it was a baby who cried all the time. Except that this time, I also had the first one to deal with all day because she wasn't going to school yet."

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Society
Michela Marzano

Ethics Of Surrogacy: The Case Of Baby "Luna" Abandoned In Ukraine

Surrogacy is still considered quite controversial, especially in Italy where a story has made headlines after would-be parents renounced a baby born in Ukraine. The author says we must face the ethical (and other) questions rather than dismiss the practice as "uterus for rent."

-Analysis-

ROME — The story of the surrogate child born in Kiev, and then abandoned by its would-be Italian parents, is filled with deep sadness. No child should ever be let go.

And yet, it happens. It happens when a woman decides to give birth anonymously, and the baby is then given up for adoption. Or when a child is placed in temporary foster care, but then never returns to the family of origin. It happens with some premature-born babies who, after being kept alive with the help of sophisticated therapies, will never be picked up by their parents because of a disability. It even happens with adoption: those rare occasions when the kid is returned, putting him or her through a dramatic "double abandonment."

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WHAT THE WORLD
Bertrand Hauger

Parents Call Cops On Teen Son For Refusing To Clear The Table

Parenting can be a tricky thing.

Who can safely say they've never, in the heat of the moment, brandished over-the-top threats to try to get unruly offspring to comply? And who ever follows through?

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China
Yan Yong

On Chinese Youth And The Elusive Hunt For Creativity

China's exam-oriented culture does not foster imagination, which is necessary to create better employees and better people.

-Essay-

BEIJING — A Chinese mother recently told a story about her child, a first grader, on WeChat, China's equivalent of Facebook. A fill-in-the-blank question on the child's school test asked: "What does a persimmon on the tree look like?" The correct answer was a lantern. Unfortunately, her son didn't pick this answer because he saw absolutely no relation between the two objects.

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Switzerland
Julie Rambal

(Even Older) Boomerang Children Weigh On Parents' Well-Being

More and more young and not-so-young people are returning home to live with their parents. A phenomenon which is hard on their aging parents.

GENEVA — Françoise, 71, couldn't have dreamt of a more complicated relationship with her 39-year-old daughter Sandra. They used to speak every day, and not a week would pass without them seeing one another. But their relationship changed last September when Sandra arrived and unpacked her suitcases after a break-up. "She stayed seven months. Hell!" sighs Françoise. "She never ceased to remind me that I am old and decrepit and that she can't stand my retired life. Worse, she didn't do anything around the house, despite the fact that she acted very autonomously. I found myself stuck with a 40-year-old teenager."

Françoise says her grown daughter, who wanted a child of her own, had been stung badly by her boyfriend who changed his mind at the last minute. "She took her anger out on me," the aging mother said. "I didn't dare to invite friends over for lunch if she so much as seemed to be in a bad mood. I felt obliged to constantly be at her disposal."

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Egypt
Ahmed Wael*

In Egypt, Parenting And The Power Of Language

CAIRO — I was four years old when, while visiting a relative at his home, he urged me to eat some food. He told me playfully, as children are often told: "Eat, you donkey." But, according to my mother, I refused.

It bothered me that he was asking me to eat in this way. I walked out of the room in tears and wanted to leave immediately.

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