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Teens, Privacy, And Why The Only Text Messages I Read Are My Own – by Jennifer McGrail

Check out this awesome post by Jennifer McGrail over at The Path Less Taken. Privacy is a big deal, especially with teenagers. We must respect their privacy.

I’m a pretty private person.  Maybe that sounds weird coming from someone who has shared many intimate details about her life over the past several years, but I am.  Not just when it comes to…

Source: Teens, Privacy, And Why The Only Text Messages I Read Are My Own

Your Children Are Not Your Property

One of the biggest challenges parents face in attempting to raise our children to become peaceful, compassionate, critical thinking individuals, is overcoming the outdated authoritarian parenting programming that most of our parents modeled for us when we were growing up.

I believe it is imperative that we rise to this challenge for two reasons:

  1. Because modeling peaceful and mutually respectful interpersonal dynamics is the best way ensure that the next generation relies on peaceful and mutually beneficial interpersonal dynamics.
  2. Because our children do not belong to us. They are not our property. They belong to themselves.

dayna_martin_unschooling_meme

Rejecting Antiquated Authoritarian Parenting Paradigms

Most of us were raised in controlling, authoritarian households in which one or both of our parents used coercion, bribery, emotional blackmail, spanking, and punishments to make us behave. Our parents and guardians used these traditional parenting methods because it was what they knew to do in order to get us to behave, be quiet, submit, and obey. Some of us had the misfortune of growing up in abusive households. Many of us learned what we lived, and now parent our own children using coercive methods too (even if our styles differ somewhat from our parents’ coercive parenting methods).

Now that I know better, I do better Maya Angelou

So, if we want to raise fully autonomous, peaceful individuals who think for themselves and don’t blindly follow coercive authoritarian systems of doing things, we need to carefully examine our long-held beliefs about parenting. Change starts from within.

Children Own Themselves

For centuries, people thought it was perfectly fine to own other people.

After that horribly violent abomination finally was abolished, it was still fashionable in Western society for husbands to believe they owned their wives. Husbands were even  encouraged to use physical force, humiliation, and intimidation to “discipline” their wives if they didn’t like their behavior.

Finally, the tired old idea that children belong to their parents is fading away, and it’s about time! Dayna Martin, author, speaker, and radical unschooling mom, wrote an excellent article on her blog called The Evolution of Children’s Rights that echos similar sentiments.

“We live in a world where parents are told to control and modify their children’s behavior. They are told that this is the goal of parenting. Most parents take pride in how obedient their children are and feel embarrassed when their children do not listen to them. It wasn’t very long ago that men were told to beat their wives if they didn’t obey. Men were encouraged by their fathers, friends and leaders to punish their wives harshly for disobedience. Look how far we have come since then! Men would be arrested today if they lived life this way now.

I believe that the same evolution is happening with children and their rights. We are on the cusp of change. In time, we will look back on these days with disgust and regret. When we can acknowledge the injustice that children live through being controlled, punished, and forced to live a subservient life we can begin to heal ourselves from our own upbringing.

Dayna Martin

John Locke, English philosopher and physician, wrote about the idea of self-ownership all the way back in 1689 in an essay called Of Property and Government, in which he asserted that everyone has property in their own person. In other words, everyone owns themselves.

Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a “property” in his own “person.” This nobody has any right to but himself.

—John Locke, Of Property and Government

Hundreds of years later, Robert LeFevre, American libertarian businessman, activist, and radio personality, took the idea of self-ownership even further in his book The Philosophy of Ownership, and even extended self-ownership to infants, back in 1966.

“An adult who is injured in some way, who may be ill or decrepit in old age, is still recognized as an owner of himself and his other properties. He may have to be waited upon hand and foot, yet his ownership of himself is not questioned, so long as he lives. The same realization should apply to all persons, infants included. I would set down as the fundamental instances of incorrect ownership the ancient practice of possessive marriage, possessive child-parent relationships, and control of the slave obtained in battle or in any other way.

—Robert LeFevre, Chapter 4, The Philosophy of Ownership

One of my favorite living voluntaryists is writer and speaker Wendy McElroy. She offers a very straightforward view of self-ownership that I absolutely love. It really gets to the heart of the matter of self-ownership and makes it clear enough for even children to understand.

“Self-ownership begins with your skin. If you cannot clearly state, “Everything beneath the skin is me; this is the line past which no one has the right to cross without permission,” then there is no foundation for individual rights or for libertarianism.”

—Wendy McElroy

“Evil does not arise only from evil people, but also from good people who tolerate the initiation of force as a means to their own ends. In this manner, good people have empowered evil throughout history.

Having confidence in a free society is to focus on the process of discovery in the marketplace of values rather than to focus on some imposed vision or goal. Using … force to impose a vision on others is intellectual sloth and typically results in unintended, perverse consequences. Achieving a free society requires courage to think, to talk, and to act – especially when it is easier to do nothing.

—Ken Schoolland, The Philosophy of Liberty

So you see, your children are not your children—they own themselves. Children own their own bodies, their own lives, their own choices, their own successes, their failures, their hopes and their dreams, and they own their own property.

Life, liberty, and property form the basis of a truly free society. We, as parents, must learn to respect our children’s intrinsic self-ownership, and regard them as individuals worthy of cooperation and respect. If we want to escape the authoritarian, coercive paradigm that has been perpetuated on humanity by governments, religious institutions, our education system, and our culture, we must commit to raising our children peacefully, cooperatively, and in a way that respects their natural right to be safe and secure in their own bodies.

According to Wikipedia, “Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of her or his own body and life.”

“…every individual is the owner of their own body—even children.The fact that children are born in a state of incapacity doesn’t mean the parent owns the child in the child’s stead; it means the parent is charged with stewardship until the child has been raised out of this state of incapacity. This means that the parent should make rational decisions to preserve the bodily integrity of the child that they think the child would make if the child was able. This does not give the parent a license to verbally abuse or physically beat a child but rather puts an ever greater charge of ensuring that the child comes to no harm. By recognizing the child’s property right to their own body, we can frame aggressions against children as what they are (trespasses) and they can be dealt with accordingly.

Jared Howe, Rapper, writer, and voluntaryist

Jared Howe brings up an excellent point here. Because children own themselves (including their bodies), committing aggression against them (i.e.: spanking and other forms of physical violence, intimidation, and punishment out of rage, frustration, or for behavior modification purposes) is a violation of children’s rights. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and to the more peaceful and free world we know is possible to stop resorting to violence in response to problems.

Spanking Children is Not Only Antiquated, It’s a Violation of The Non-Aggression Principle and The Golden Rule

Spanking is Aggression Against Children

Compared to their non-spanked peers, children who are spanked are more likely to use aggression against their peers, they are less likely to internalize rules, they are more likely to engage in criminal activity during adolescence, they are more likely to engage in domestic abuse as adults, and they are more likely to suffer from depression. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is publicly against spanking because of its numerous negative effects on children’s health and development.

molyneux spanking quote

In 2011, Stefan Molyneux, a well-known Peaceful Parenting advocate, put out a great video on the facts about spanking. It’s a topic he’s covered extensively. I hope you’ll check it out and learn the facts about spanking. I think most parents will be less likely to spank their children, after learning about its effects on children’s development.

The Non-Aggression Principle

nap

The Golden Rule

According to the Bible, Jesus spoke to the people and urged them to treat others the way they would wish to be treated. He even went so far as to emphasize that this precept is fundamental to Christianity. It’s a moral law of reciprocity laid down by the Christ himself, that two separate disciples of Christ (Matthew and Luke) wrote down for posterity.

Christians who ignore or overlook this tenet of Christianity as it applies to how they treat their children are quite honestly missing the point. See for yourself.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

—Luke 6:31 New International Version (NIV)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

—Matthew 7:12 New International Version (NIV)

Universal Ethics

Maxims like The Golden Rule are universal ethics of reciprocity. That is why most of the world’s religions have key commandments that provide guidelines for how we should treat others.

the golden rule

How we treat other people—including children—should be no different than the way in which we would wish to be treated.

Whether you’re religious, atheist, or agnostic, the moral maxim to treat others with the same respect you would like to be treated is still relevant.

‘The Free Society’ Begins in Our Own Homes

How we treat other people—including children—should be no different than the way in which we would wish to be treated. It’s time to abolish all forms of interpersonal aggression and domination, and instead model the peaceful, free society we wish to live in.

We are the ambassadors of The Free Society, and it’s our job not to proselytize or coerce our children into behaving the way we want them to, but instead to show them the way by living out our libertarian principles so that they can see them in action and make the conscious choice to emulate them of their own volition.

Parents decide each day—sometimes consciously, and sometimes unconsciously—how we treat others in our own interpersonal relationships, how we speak, and how we prioritize what matters to us. Our children are watching and learning from our behavior.

We should consciously choose to be the kinds of people we want our children to grow up to be. We should treat them the way we wish to be treated—the way we would have appreciated our parents treating us back when we were children.

Quote-LRKnost-parenting-choices

If we seek a peaceful and free society, we should start by creating one in our homes for our children, so that they grow up knowing that it is possible—because they’ve lived it.

Peaceful Parenting (The Compassionate Parenting Approach We Wish Our Parents Had Known About)

If we as a people want to move away from using violence and coercion to get things done in this world, we have to start making changes at home. In order to raise children who will grow up to resolve conflicts peacefully, and respect themselves and others, we must lead the way as peaceful parents by consciously choosing nonviolent, persuasive, gentle parenting methods instead.

peaceful parenting

What Is Peaceful Parenting?

Peaceful Parenting is all about guiding children versus controlling them. Dayna Martin calls it a partnership. She relates to her children as she would with anyone else she enters into partnership with, and treats them with respect. When problems arise, they talk them out, and focus on the cause and solutions to their problems.

In the Peaceful Parenting model, nurturing connections with our children is emphasized rather than punishing them when they don’t behave in ways we like. Peaceful Parenting emphasizes encouraging children and using the power of persuasion and positive role modeling to gently guide children, rather than demanding they do as we say or using intimidation, punishments, or other forms of coercion to get our way. Peaceful parenting requires thoughtfully responding to our children’s needs and issues versus reacting to them out of frustration or anger.

Peaceful Parenting supports a stronger parent-child relationship because it is based on consistent mutual respect and mutual trust.

“Parents today are doing the best they can with what they know, yet many are feeling empty and wondering why their kids do not like them or want to be around them.  We hear words like rebellion and chalk it up to normalcy, but what if there was nothing to rebel against?  What if we lived the respect for our children that we demand they have for us? What if we could recognize that the punishments model injustice and that through using power to control another person we are teaching them to do the same? It is though loving kindness and understanding that our children learn love and peace and in turn will reflect this back to the world.

Families who live in peace and freedom do not usually deal with rebellion from their children because we are never the wall standing between them and their desires.  In fact, we see our role as helping our children get what they want in life. We move from power struggles and control to connection and partnership. When we make this shift, we discover the love and deep feelings of joy that we are naturally meant to experience as parents.

—Dayna Martin, The Evolution of Children’s Rights

This website, called Beyond Punishment, has compiled a list of helpful websites, blogs, and books for parents looking to learn more about Peaceful Parenting. I hope you’ll spend some time checking it out.

Dr. Laura Markham, another Peaceful Parenting advocate created a website called Aha! Parenting, which has resources available for every stage of parenthood, from pregnancy and birth all the way through the teenage years! You can check it out here. She also wrote a book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting that’s definitely worth reading.

It’s time we revolutionize our parenting approaches, and apply the same peaceful and respectful principles we use in dealing with others to the ways we parent our children. We must make the conscious choice to consistently respect our children’s self-ownership apply our libertarian values to how we treat our immediate family members.

I hope after reading this post, and checking out the links within, you’ll seriously consider transitioning towards Peaceful Parenting, if you haven’t already.

Additionally, you owe it to yourself to look into Nonviolent Communication. It focuses on solving problems peacefully, through effective communication strategies.

Free your children, and liberate yourself and your household from operating in a manner consistent with domination, coercion, and intimidation. Examine your parenting methods and do away with any parenting tools that don’t align with your values and ethics. And if you choose to make changes, talk to your kids about why you’ve chosen to change your parenting methods. They will appreciate it! I promise.

Don’t just talk about your principles, live them. Be the change you wish to see in the word.

dr. raison parenting quote

Finally, I’ll close with  a section from Khalil Gibran’s beautiful poem, The Prophet. If you haven’t read The Prophet, check it out! It’s lovely! This section is specifically about children and touches on exactly what I’ve been writing about. I hope it inspires you. (The link to the full poem is included below.)

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

My Libertarian Lifestyle Logo 326 x 264

“The way our government, institutions, and media are telling us to parent is perpetuating the authoritarian paradigm, which is distancing us from our children and robbing us of the joy that we are all meant to have by nature as parents. Take back your lives and the lives of your children! Take the freedom and joy that is waiting for you and begin to de-school yourself on everything you thought you knew about parenting and education.”

Dayna Martin, author of Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun

“Children are not lesser humans than adults, just a little smaller and newer.” —L.R.Knost

Popular Infant Formulas and Juices Can Cause Dental Fluorosis

My Teen Daughter’s Struggle With Dental Fluorosis

When I took my 13-year-old to the orthodontist this week to have her braces removed I sensed her anxiety.  On a day when she should have been thrilled to finally reveal her beautiful new smile to herself and her friends, she dreaded the fact that she would no longer be able to hide behind her braces.  She didn’t want to have her braces taken off because they helped to conceal the discolorations on her teeth that she’s always been so embarrassed about—mottled discolorations caused by dental fluorosis.

She’ll be turning 14 this month and starting her freshman year in high school.  The last thing she needs is to feel self-conscious right before going back to school, in a new school, with a bunch of new kids.

In the past, sometimes kids at school have ignorantly assumed that her teeth were stained because she just doesn’t brush her teeth enough.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  She has always taken great care of her teeth, and her dental records confirm this fact.  Unfortunately, most people have never heard of dental fluorosis, what causes it, and how difficult it is to deal with—especially for kids and teens.

What Causes Dental Fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is not caused by poor oral hygiene.  None of my three daughters has ever even had a single cavity.

My daughter’s baby teeth were perfectly aligned and brilliantly white.  But after losing her baby teeth, as her adult teeth began to erupt one by one, we were shocked to see that they were already discolored.  As each adult tooth advanced slowly through her gums and into place, it was clear that her adult teeth showed characteristics consistent with mild-to-moderate dental fluorosis.

Enamel fluorosis is caused by the long-term ingestion of fluoride during tooth development. Even low fluoride intake (about 0.03 μg/kg bw) will result in a certain, although low, level of fluorosis in a population.

—Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine, Dental Fluorosis: Chemistry and Biology

Fluorosis is caused by ingesting too much fluoride during the first 8 years of life.  Fluoride can be found in water, tea, juice, soft drinks, canned foods, commercially grown (non-organic) fruits and veggies, Teflon and T-Fal-coated pots and pans, pesticides, fumigants, polishes and lubricants, some medications, and of course toothpaste and mouthwash.

In the last two decades, increasing fluoride exposure in various forms and vehicles is most likely the explanation for an increase in the prevalence of mild-to-moderate forms of dental fluorosis in many communities, not the least in those in which controlled water fluoridation has been established. The effects of fluoride on enamel formation causing dental fluorosis in man are cumulative, rather than requiring a specific threshold dose, depending on the total fluoride intake from all sources and the duration of fluoride exposure. Enamel mineralization is highly sensitive to free fluoride ions, which uniquely promote the hydrolysis of acidic precursors such as octacalcium phosphate and precipitation of fluoridated apatite crystals. Once fluoride is incorporated into enamel crystals, the ion likely affects the subsequent mineralization process by reducing the solubility of the mineral and thereby modulating the ionic composition in the fluid surrounding the mineral. In the light of evidence obtained in human and animal studies, it is now most likely that enamel hypomineralization in fluorotic teeth is due predominantly to the aberrant effects of excess fluoride on the rates at which matrix proteins break down and/or the rates at which the by-products from this degradation are withdrawn from the maturing enamel. Any interference with enamel matrix removal could yield retarding effects on the accompanying crystal growth through the maturation stages, resulting in different magnitudes of enamel porosity at the time of tooth eruption.

—Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine, Dental Fluorosis: Chemistry and Biology

Her pediatric dentist confirmed my daughter’s dental fluorosis, and tried to reassure me saying, “It’s only cosmetic, and when she gets older, if it bothers her, she can get her teeth whitened or consider getting veneers.”

Only cosmetic?  Tell that to my daughter.

Is Dental Fluorosis Just a Cosmetic Problem?

fluorosis-comp

Dental fluorosis can cause significant emotional and psychological distress and embarrassment, especially in children and teens.  Kids with moderate or severe fluorosis are often perceived as lacking proper dental hygiene or having rotten teeth, which can significantly damage their self-esteem.  But brushing three times a day with whitening toothpaste, flossing, rinsing with mouth wash, and regular trips to the dentist won’t make the mottled and/or stained appearance go away.

In today’s selfie-obsessed culture, kids with dental fluorosis are dealing with more than just a cosmetic problem—their emotional well-being suffers as well.

How Did This Happen?

I’ve always wondered what specifically caused my daughter’s dental fluorosis, and over the years I’ve considered all the usual suspects.

Was it the Toothpaste and/or Mouthwash?  

When my girls were little, I always helped them brush their teeth to make sure they used the right amount of toothpaste, and make sure they didn’t swallow any because I knew that it can be toxic if ingested, especially in children’s bodies.

After learning more about fluorosis and the dangers of fluoride ingestion, I made the switch to non-fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.

I am confident that my due diligence prevented any accidental ingestion of fluoride from toothpaste or mouthwash.  But even still, if I had it all to do over again, I would have never purchased fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash for my young girls, knowing what I know now about the potential health risks.

Was it the Fluoride in our Drinking Water?

Naturally occurring fluoride is found in drinking water at varying concentration levels.  In my my county in Arizona, it varies widely between 1.6 and 6.4 ppm.

According to the CDC, there are 193 water systems in Pima County, where I live.  Of those, 20 are fluoridated, and 8 are what they call ‘mixed’ because they receive water from multiple wells with varying fluoride levels.

Through coercion and undue influence, many areas in the U.S. add additional fluoride to city water supplies and most people aren’t even aware of it.  This completely violates individual autonomy, and the right to voluntarily consent or decline treatments, as well as the right to be informed of all potential risks, benefits, and alternatives.

In 2012, a woman in Phoenix, Arizona named Jody Clute began fighting the city of Phoenix about their water fluoridation after she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and learned that people with hypothyroidism should avoid fluoride—a difficult undertaking when it’s added to the water supply with or without your consent.  Sure, people can take steps to avoid ingesting fluoride by avoiding foods and other products that are known to contain fluoride, but without a pricey reverse osmosis system or water filter specifically designed to filter out fluoride, you will be ingesting fluoride in your drinking water, whether you like it or not.  Not everyone agrees that adding fluoride to the water supply benefits public health.

“How can one set of people vote to get another set of people to ingest something?” Jody Clute asked.  “They are politicians and not medical doctors.”

Tucson Sentinel, Woman’s Curiosity Reopens Fluoridation Debate in Phoenix

That’s a very good question.

Was it the Soy-Based Infant Formula?

When my daughter was an infant, she had some gastric distress and vomiting.  Her pediatrician suspected a milk intolerance may have been causing it and suggested switching to a soy-based infant formula.  I was reluctant to do so, mainly because soy-based formula costs more than milk-based formula, but I agreed to switch based on the doctor’s expert recommendation.

A study published back in 1988 by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry found that soy-based infant formulas contained significantly higher levels of fluoride than milk-based formulas.

Soy-based ready-to-feed and diluted liquid concentrate formulas were found to contain significantly higher levels of F than milk-based formulas. These findings, coupled with the potential bioavailability of the F in soy-based formulas, suggest that infants consuming soy-based (and some milk-based) formulas, along with supplemental dietary F, are receiving larger than optimum daily dosages of F, given currently defined norms for F dosage.

Fluoride Content of Infant Formulas: Soy-Based Formulas as a Potential Factor in Dental Fluorosis

Was it the Most Trusted Name in Baby and Toddler Foods?  

Over the years, I’ve researched dental fluorosis at length, but it wasn’t until this week, while researching ways to cosmetically address fluorosis stains, that something else jumped out at me—grape juice has some of the highest concentrations of fluoride.  Guess what my daughter’s favorite juice is?

When she was little, I used to buy these cute little Gerber White Grape Juice bottles.  They came in a 4-pack, and were the perfect size to pack in the diaper bag and take along on outings.  She loved them!  They were healthy (or so I thought at the time), convenient, and, of course, made by Gerber—the most trusted name in baby and toddler food in America.

And guess which juice of all the juices tested for fluoride concentrations had the highest concentration?  There it is, right at the top of the list—Gerber White Grape Juice.  The fluoride concentration in Gerber White Grape Juice is more than twice as high as the next highest juice in the list.

Fluoride ion concentration in commercial fruit juices and drinks
Product Name Company/Location Fluoride concentration (ppm F)
White Grape Gerber, Fremont, MI 6.80
White Grape Minute Maid, Houston, TX 3.00
Grape 100% Welch’s, Concord, MA 2.60
Tropical Blend Bcechnut, Canajoharie, NY 2.60
Grape Purity Supreme, Boston, MA 2.00
White Grape Welch’s, Concord, MA 1.95
Grape Stop & Shop, Boston, MA 1.94
Pineapple Minute Maid, Houston, TX 1.35
Apple I 00% Minute Maid, Houston, TX 1.30
Grape Welch’s, Concord, MA 1.28
Grape Minute Maid, Houston, TX 1.25
Apple-plum Hi-C, Houston, TX 1.25
Apple-grape Hi-C, Houston, TX 1.16
Cherryberry Rainbow, Hazelwood, MO 1.15
Peach Dole, San Francisco, CA 1.15
Grape Drink Rainbow, Hazelwood, MO 1.13
Fruit Apple 50% Welch’s, Concord, MA 1.09
Cranapple Ocean Spray, Middleboro, MA 1.08
Apple Cranberry Beechnut, Canajoharie, NY 0.96
Lemon-sparkler Sundance, Van Nuys, CA 0.78
Apple Ocean Spray, Middleboro, MA 0.78
Mixed Fruit Gerber, Fremont, MI 0.78
Natural Sour Cherry Sundance, Van Nuys, CA 0.70
Pear Stage I Beechnut, Canajoharie, NY 0.65
Cran Blueberry Ocean Spray, Middleboro, MA 0.62
Apple-Cherry Beechnut, Canajoharie, NY 0.52
Grape Beverage Tropicana, Brandenton, FL 0.47
Apple 100% Stop & Shop, Boston, MA 0.39
Grape 10% Hi-C, Houston, TX 0.35
Cran-raspberry Ocean Spray, Middleboro, MA 0.27
Cranberry Veryfine, Westford, MA 0.30
Apple 100% Mott’s, Stamford, CT 0.26
Prune Stop & Shop, Boston, MA 0.26
Apple 100% Mott’s, Stamford, CT 0.22
Mixed Fruit Beechnut, Canajoharie, NY 0.22
Orange Drink Tropicana, Brandenton, FL 0.20
Apple Stagel Beechnut, Canajoharie, NY 0.18
Prune Sunsweet, Pleasantown, CA 0.175
Apple 100% Veryfine, Westord, MA 0.16
Grape (artificial) Veryfine, Westford, MA 0.16
Cranberry Ocean Spray, Middleboro, MA 0.15
Fruit Punch Veryfine, Westford, MA 0.15

 

If I had known that the fluoride concentration in Gerber White Grape Juice was so high in fluoride I would have never given that juice to my precious little girl!  Hind sight is 20/20.  But at least now you know, and can avoid making the same mistakes I made.

giphy

“The only cause of dental fluorosis is fluoride consumption during childhood.

— Public Justice, NEMPHOS V. NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA, INC., ET AL.

Companies like Gerber and Carnation Good Start that manufacture infant formula and juice should be transparent about potential hazards of the ingredients in their products (including the extremely high levels of fluoride in their products that have been shown to cause fluorosis, especially when mixed with fluoridated water).  These companies should at the very least label their products accordingly so that consumers can make truly informed choices.

David and Goliath

My daughter isn’t the only one to develop dental fluorosis from trusted infant formula and baby foods that contain high levels of fluoride.  In 2011, Michelle Nemphos sued Nestle, Gerber, and Dannon alleging they failed to warn consumers that their products contain exceedingly high concentrations of fluoride, and that this caused her daughter to develop dental fluorosis.  She was just a mom facing off against powerful corporations that had misled her and others.  Her case was thrown out.

Advertising like Nestle’s and Dannon’s, which induce consumers to purchase a product by touting an ingredient’s benefits without warning of that same ingredient’s known hazards, is generally prohibited by state tort and consumer protection laws.  Those laws allow wronged consumers to sue for injuries the product caused.

But lawsuits over damage caused by fluoride consumption might be thrown out due to federal preemption of laws governing food standards—meaning that any dental fluorosis lawsuits brought under state laws are wiped out by federal laws, leaving injured children without redress.  This is an unsupported expansion of the scope of federal preemption under the relevant federal laws and improperly removes health and safety regulations from the state’s authority, despite being traditionally reserved to the states.

That’s what the federal district court allowed to happen to Nemphos.

Nemphos attempted to recoup the high cost of her daughter’s dental care and sued on the child’s behalf in Maryland under state claims, as well as the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.  The MCPA prohibits manufacturers from making false and misleading statements.

The case is Nemphos v. Nestle Waters North America, Inc., et al.

But the federal trial court in Maryland dismissed the case, improperly holding that Nemphos’ claims are preempted by the federal Nutritional Labeling and Education Act.

The NLEA requires manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in food, but does not require safety warnings about those ingredients. The court held that the case was preempted because, by suing under Maryland’s MCPA, Nemphos was asking the court to enforce a state labeling standard different from the federal standard.

Public Justice, NEMPHOS V. NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA, INC., ET AL.

10 Steps Can You Take To Prevent Fluorosis in Your Children

  1.  Choose breastfeeding over bottle feeding whenever possible.  A mother’s body filters fluoride out of her breast milk (mother’s milk is 0.004 ppm).  If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, consult a lactation consultant for help.  However, if you choose to use infant formula, keep in mind that soy-based formulas have the highest concentrations of fluoride; choose the best infant formula you can afford.
  2. Consider getting a reverse osmosis system or a water filter that filters out fluoride, particularly if you live in an area that adds fluoride to the city water, or if the levels of fluoride in your area are naturally high.  Keep in mind that reverse osmosis systems use a considerable amount of water (most RO systems use three gallons of water to make one gallon for drinking).  If you’re concerned about wasting water, this may not be the best option.  As a desert dweller, I try to be water wise, so I use a Berkey water filter instead of an RO system.
  3. Switch to fluoride-free toothpaste, or consider brushing with baking soda.  You may want to check out The Secret by Dr. Behm of Behm Natural Dentistry.
  4. Avoid purchasing juices on this list.  Consider buying only organic grape juice.
  5. Throw out your non-stick pots and pans and replace them with stainless steel, cast iron, or ceramic cookware.  Non-stick pots and pans can leech fluoride and other harmful chemicals into your foods when heated.
  6. Eat more fresh, whole foods.  As much as possible, purchase organic fruits and veggies.
  7. Don’t take Cipro or other fluorinated medications.
  8. If you drink tea, drink teas made from younger tea leaves.  Teas made from older tea leaves contain higher levels of fluoride.
  9. Avoid buying soft drinks, canned foods, and other highly processed foods.
  10. Avoid buying or feeding your children anything containing mechanically de-boned chicken.

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Peacefully Parenting Teenagers

Parenting a teenager can be quite challenging.  Peacefully parenting a teenager is even harder.

As a mom of 3 headstrong girls who are all in the double-digits now, I can tell you first-hand that some days it really isn’t pretty.  Some days the mascara runs, and our eyes get all squinty and puffy from just trying to sort through all the emotions.

When my husband and I began transitioning to peaceful parenting, we had no idea what we’d be in for in the years ahead.  Once our girls got older, any time we ran out of ideas we’d search for help on the interwebs, but quickly found that most of the resources available online on peaceful parenting only offer suggestions for how to deal with little ones, not big cranky ones with big attitudes.

My mother-in-law, whom I adore, likes to quote one of her mother’s favorite phrases when talking about parenting teenagers.  With a knowing look she’ll say to me, “Mother always used to say, ‘Little ones, little problems.  Big ones, big problems.”  Well, her mother  certainly knew what she was talking about; after all, she raised 4 children (3 girls and a boy) and they all went on to live productive, happy, healthy lives and raise their own beautiful families.

5 Lessons for Peacefully Parenting Teenagers

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned so far on how to peacefully parent teens (it’s definitely a work in progress):

  1. Good ideas don’t require force. Parents should never coerce (force) their child into doing something, or not doing something.  Instead, use the power of persuasion to influence your teen.  Even if they don’t seem to accept your sage wisdom immediately, the seed has been planted and they may consider what you’ve said after your interaction.  Give them time to process your advice and consider it.  The best way we can teach them to solve matters with persuasion rather than coercion is by modeling this method for them.  Use this challenging time as an opportunity to work on your argumentation ethics.  Be the change you want to see in the world.
  2. With greater freedom and independence comes more responsibility.  Teens are looking for ways to assert their independence and show us that they’ve got this, even if we think they clearly don’t.  Find out what their goals are, and even if they’re not the goals you’d pick for your son or daughter, talk to them about ways they can work toward those goals.  The payoff will be great for you both (and for your sanity)!
  3. Privacy is paramount.  Respect your teen’s need for privacy.  This is contrary to conventional wisdom, I know, but do not go through your son or daughter’s things.  This sows seeds of distrust and disrespect.  If you’re going to get through these difficult teen years, trust and respect might just come in handy.
  4. Hold space for their freedom of expression and communication.  If your teens are anything like mine, they’ll begin to express themselves in all sorts of delightful new ways.  Try to remember when you did the same thing.  Upholding their inherent right to express themselves how they choose means you may not always like what they have to say.  Listen anyway, and model the kind of communication you’d like them to use.  Communication is better than the dreaded silence.
  5. Support their self-determination.  Respect your teen’s inherent right to choose their own identity and how they want to live their own life (even if you don’t like their choices).

Last night, I sat down at the kitchen counter with my 17-year-old and talked to her about her goals for her upcoming first year of adulthood.  I want to make sure that she knows the steps she can take to reach those goals.  Together, my daughter and I worked out on scratch paper exactly how much things like rent, utilities, phone service, internet, car payment, gas, food and other essentials would cost, and then we calculated exactly how much she would need to make in order to provide those essentials for herself.  We created a budget, and doing so gave her an idea of how much she’d need to save and how little she’d have left over to spend.  It also showed her that I care about helping her work towards her own goals and independence.

At least this way I know that even if she decides to leave home the day she turns 18, I’ve given her the tools and support to take charge of her own life, and I’ve shown her that I want her to succeed.  The rest is up to her.  I think she’ll do great!

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