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Film Clips, Chapter 4

Part I

Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos


Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman founded the website Babble.com for parents. In this TED talk, they present four aspects of parenting that are never acknowledged (Gazso, p. 65) and are even “taboo” to talk about. They claim this is part of the “false advertising about parenting” found in magazines and other media, which creates unrealistic expectations (p. 82). Though the term is not used in the talk, students can link these expectations to the “intensive mothering” ideal for women (p. 72) and to both “change and continuity in the performance of fathering” (pp. 73–75). Note the preponderance of women when the camera pans the audience.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why are the four “conversations” about parenting enumerated by Griscom and Volkman taboo? How are these taboos influenced by our social expectations of intensive mothering and hands-on fathers (pp. 72–75)? Personal stories are always welcome.
  2. How we can change our cultural ideas and provide social supports to help new parents adapt to parenting? How do we change the social expectations of all parents to make parenting more gratifying?
  3. Check out http://www.babble.com/home/ and describe some of the main concerns that American parents are engaging with now. Is this website changing ideals and stereotypes of parenting? How?

Part II

Hyper Parents and Coddled Kids

CBC Doc Zone, 43:09

Many of us have seen evidence of hyper-parenting in our classrooms. The documentary Hyper Parents and Coddled Kids focuses on the social roots and growth of this trend and on what it is doing to our children. Hyper parenting can be linked to intensive mothering and hands-on fathering (Gazso, pp. 72–73) and to the social trends of consumerism and individualism, older parents and fewer kids, surveillance technologies and expectations, and the regulation of childhood. Students can discuss how hyper parents really don’t fit into any of the old categories of parenting styles (pp. 73–74). Hyper parenting is a particularly middle-class and North American phenomenon that can be linked to trends in brain development research and the privatization of the structured daycare and school industries. The effects for children of all ages are particularly worrisome.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What parenting style or combination of styles (pp. 73–74) is evident among North American hyper-parents? What are the child outcomes of this style or combination of styles, according to the documentary?
  2. Hyper parenting is a particularly middle-class phenomenon. What social circumstances mitigate against this trend for Canadian families who are headed by a lone parent or are living in poverty or both? Is hyper parenting tenable if both parents are working? (pp. 77–79).
  3. How applicable is hyper parenting across cultures in Canada, for example, among immigrant families? (pp. 74–76). Would sexual orientation make a difference? (p. 79).
  4. Do you agree with this documentary’s assessment of “millennials”? How do your observations of college-aged men and women in Canada support or diverge from these observations? Are you a “coddled kid” or a “hyper parent”? Explain.

Part III

A crash course in daycare (Peter Jordan)

CBC Digital Archives, 5:09

Is daycare bad for boys?

CBC Digital Archives, 6:01

The daycare debate: Putting your child first (1983)

CBC Digital Archives, 6:12

The first excerpt provides a brief introduction to a daycare in Winnipeg by Peter Jordan. The following two excerpts illustrate the debate over daycare that has been ongoing since the 1960s. This debate can be linked to the fact that despite repeated political demands over three decades, Canada still does not have a universal daycare program (Gazso, p. 80). Instructors can look through the clips to find other examples of this historic debate and of daycare issues in various parts of Canada. For example, one clip reviews the problems inherent in Quebec’s former $7-a-day universal daycare program (p. 80).

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What were some of the ethical and moral arguments against the use of daycare in the 1970s and 1980s? Given our collective experience of daycare since, what would you say to the debaters if you could go back?
  2. To what extent do you think the attitudes expressed in “The daycare debate” and “Is daycare bad for boys” played a role in the political inaction on universal daycare over the past three decades? What other social factors are important?
  3. The 1995 clip “A crash course in daycare” illustrates high-quality care run by an Early Childhood Educator. Is all daycare in Canada like this one, according to the text? What are some of the variations that you have heard about? Did you have similar experiences?
  4. Price daycare in your community. Does the UCCB, CCTB, and NBS (p. 81, Chapter 15) cover the cost of this care? Would these payments help working parents with the costs associated with daycare? How is this affecting mothers and fathers of young children?

Part IV

An Unavoidable Tragedy

UNICEF, 3:20

Despite UNICEF’s millennial goal to help lower maternal and infant mortality rates around the world, poverty, the continuing subjugation of women, and lack of education for girls mean that maternal health is still ignored or misunderstood in many cultures around the world. This website gives a short overview of the global issue of high maternal and infant mortality rates that are correlated with income inequality and poverty. It also includes links to videos and photo essays on the problem in specific countries.

Chapter 4 of the text does not refer to this issue but anyone interested in global child birthing issues would find it a useful introduction to the topic of maternal and infant mortality.