Libby Simon

  • Happy mothering day

    It is curious that it was not until the early part of the 20th century that it took a woman by the name of Anna Jarvis to create a day that honours and officially acknowledges the importance of mothers. It is blatantly obvious that without mothers there would be no life on the planet. There would be no civilization. Human beings simply would not exist.
  • Daycare revisited: Non-maternal care linked to behavioural problems in children

    A researcher in Sweden has found that "two generations of universal daycare have left their children less educated, and more distant from parents." Jonas Himmelstrand, at a conference held in Ottawa on May 5, 2011, said Sweden has had a universally accessible, government-funded daycare system since 1975 and that, while there are no babies in daycare, 92 per cent of all children aged 18 months to five years are in daycare.  
  • Assessing the full value of mothers

    Many people will pay homage to their mothers on Sunday. No matter the distance, flowers will be sent and phones will be ringing as sons and daughters take a few moments to honour the woman who nurtured and cared for them, who was the source and sustenance of life and to acknowledge her sacrifices. On this day, once a year, we recognize the value of a mother.
  • Don't let the light go out

    The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah begins this year at sundown today, according to the Jewish calendar. This jubilant event is rejoiced in a beautiful song called Light One Candle, written and performed by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, in which the message of freedom is carried in the simple phrase, "don't let the light go out."

    My own memories of Hanukkah are of the wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen carrying with it the excitement of fun, friends and family. I also remember my mother faithfully lighting the small, colourful candles on the menorah (candelabra) until all eight were brightly flickering on the last night, casting a glow of light and warmth throughout the house. Hanukkah means potato latkes (pancakes), dreidles (spinning tops) and Hanukkah gelt (money) for the children, both the real and chocolate kind. It also means warm, festive family gatherings.

  • No voice, no choice

    Two-year-old "Janie" takes the little, pink- knitted sweater her grandmother gave her from the small cubicle at the day-care centre. She holds it close and walks towards the outer door. It is closed. She stares at the door. It is only mid-afternoon. Janie doesn't express herself well with words yet, but her actions say she wants to go home. No one notices. Fourteen-month-old "Tommy", who has been in full time day care since he was six months old, approaches every adult who enters the room muttering "Mama," regardless of gender. When the wall phone rings, he toddles over to it, looks up and, with his eyes wide, repeatedly calls out, "Mama?"
  • Bleeding hearts? How about heads

    In her columns, Lindor Reynolds has touched on many of the issues professional social workers at Child and Family Services deal with on a daily basis. As a retired social worker who served 30 years in the field (about 10 of them with the former Children's Aid Society of Winnipeg), it is apparent there has been little change in that time. Perhaps I can offer some personal perspectives. Governments and the society they represent seem to hold a general attitude that undervalues social work as a profession. The reason may be that the groups they work with are generally the disenfranchised whose lives exist on the fringes. Social workers do not have the luxury to choose their clients. Cases come under a child protection agency by default. That is, when all other systems have failed, Child and Family Services picks up the pieces. These walking wounded appear with a wide range of social, emotional and intellectual problems, the families all seriously broken in one way or another. Services are often thrust upon them and they may not be willing participants in the process.
  • How three S's feed three R's

    ''THE main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth." So wrote Erasmus centuries ago. But its truth is self-evident and remains relevant today. The question, however, is what exactly do we mean by "education"? What is it we want to teach our children and who exactly is responsible for ensuring "it" happens? Our educational system has, for some time, expanded its mission beyond the basic three 'Rs' of reading, writing and 'rithmetic to include music, art and physical education. While some may dispute these extensions, others argue that the system has become even more diluted with "non-essentials" and that schools are taking on tasks best left to parents such as social/emotional instruction, interpersonal skills or anger management. There is concern that this comes at the expense of basic skills needed to survive in the working world.
  • Spare the rod, spare the child

    THE broad acceptance of physical punishment is a world-wide issue. According to Penelope Leach, a British pediatrician and parent educator, a random sample of British children at the age of four years indicated that 97 per cent were spanked. The United States reported that more than 90 per cent of all parents slap or spank their children. In Canada, 75 per cent of Canadian parents use spanking as a regular method of discipline, according to a 1995 University of Manitoba study by Drs. Durrant and Rose-Krasnor.
  • Parents are our first teachers

    A recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press (Dec. 5) reported on a study that claimed that preschool was better for kids than moms at home. This implies that stay-at-home moms are placing their preschoolers at a disadvantage to those attending preschool "centre-based care." While this information is interesting, I would suggest that the research was narrowly focused and applying it with a broad brush is misleading. Assuming its accuracy, there are other factors to consider that may be even more important, such as emotional and social development. And, even if the study is absolutely errorless, does it have any reliability as a predictor for success in life as it is suggesting?


Should public servants be allowed to wear a niqab?

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