The Birth of Hope
By Jeane Rhodes PhD.
This refreshing and important book, The Birth of Hope, could instead be titled, Hope for Humanity. It is a novel which is not only engaging and well written but also highly relevant to people of all ages, cultures and lifestyles. While Hope, the book’s namesake and main character ‘appears’ only on the final page I could not help but feel that she was somehow directing the action, as well as having an influence on the other characters. It is my fondest dream that The Birth of Hope will become required reading for all teenagers as part of their curriculum in sex education classes, as well as have an impact on social workers, therapists, expectant parents and the general public.
What would life be like if everyone understood the significance of the experience every baby is having, and we had, while in the womb? Let Hope provide a few of these answers for you! This truly is a love story. www.thebirthofhope.com
Baby's Here! Who Does What?
by Duncan Fisher
If awareness is the first step on the road to change, especially social change, then UK parents have a lot to be grateful for with the publication of Duncan Fisher's first book, Baby's Here! Who Does What?.
Mr. Fisher’s dialogue illuminates virtually all of the important and relevant topics ever present for new parents like shared responsibility, earning and spending, caring for children, time management, and most importantly maintaining a strong relationship in the midst of it all. If left without proper support and guidance day to day family life can become nothing but hard graft and too often leads to overwhelm or neglect in some of these important areas.
I believe parenting can be to be a fun and a joyful exploration of life within relationship. This book models how parents can speak about, and sort out, most of the daily details, in co-operation and awareness. Everything else, then, has the space to be experienced with more grace, and the love that was intended. That, to me, is what this book can provide for modern-day parents in their quest for a rewarding family life.
Leap Before You Look
by Stephane Goldsand
Review by F2B's Patrick Houser:
This first documentary by NYC based filmmaker Stephane Goldsand, represents what could be called … “Where the rubber meets the road”… regarding contemporary parenthood.
Utilising alluring multi-media techniques Mr. Goldsand has committed to telling a story, an intimate personal story, which very few men would dare. Throughout this 22 minute sojourn the viewer is invited into Goldsand’s inner sanctum, as well as his family of origin, in order to explore his ambivalence (dread may be more accurate) at the prospect of becoming a father. We also engage with his beloved and charming wife Cristina, ripe for motherhood within the evolution of their long-term relationship.
Welcome to a creative, provocative, and heart-warming piece of filmic excellence from a man who is destined to be a successful filmmaker; as well as a fantastic father.
Be on the lookout for this important documentary at film festivals world-wide.
For more please visit www.leapbeforeyoulook.com
DOULA, the ultimate birth companion
by Patrick Houser
Doula…I have had ambivalence about that weird, foreign word since I first heard it more than a dozen years ago. Somehow a new documentary, ‘Doula, The ultimate birth companion’ by Toni Harman of Alto Films, makes me feel better about it.
The filmmaker, a new mother herself, has shown great courage in making a film about birth, and the viewer is richly rewarded as a result. However, in a unique and almost simplistic way, this film is actually more about support than birth itself. A most crucial and compelling necessity for birthing families is the need for support, and doulas deliver.
Family life today has become ever more complex and demanding. In the distant almost ancient past birth was part of extended family and village life, but no more. We have culturally ‘forgotten’ how to properly begin family life and this film is a modern antidote.
Scene after scene of this moving and visually beautiful film demonstrates what is possible in the realm of support, for mothers and fathers, during life’s most essential transition, the birth of the family. With the love, skill and commitment provided by a professional doula, she can be ‘the ultimate birth companion’.
Doulas are good news for Dads too. Rather than a doula replacing you she can provide tremendous relief and support for you. More opportunity to be intimately with your partner rather than you needing to be some kind of a birth expert yourself.
The Secret Life of Babies
By Dr. Mia Kalef
The Secret Life of Babies is a scholarly yet very readable body of work. As one discovers, and perhaps hopes by virtue of the title’s promise, the secret life of babies…thanks to Dr. Mia Kalef… is not a secret anymore. Kalef discloses the inner workings of a child’s development bit by bit; not unlike a magician who is finally willing to reveal how his most famous piece of magic is done.
The conception, development and birth of a child are nothing if not mystical. While science has learned more and more on the physiological side of the equation in recent times what has been illusionary is an understanding of the experience the baby is having, and the effects of it on them…and the resultant adult.
The clue is in the subtitle, ‘How decoding the cultures of birth, love and violence begins with recovering the people we once were.’ While this may sound a bit like a line out of the film Back to the Future, I assure you it is precise and exact as to Ms. Kalef’s accomplishment.
I believe we can all agree that who we are as humans is multidimensional and has significant emotional/psychological components. What is revealed here is the minutia of detail as to where the foundation of who we become is derived from in our very earliest development as emotional/psychological beings. The wonder of the knowledge presented is that it is relevant and pertinent to everyone, man and woman, whether preconception, pregnant, a baby/child or an adult. And best yet, there are means and methods for resolving and healing the effects of early events in our lives, even the prenatal ones.
Dr. Kalef has created an ideal marriage between head and heart as well. The end result of a perfect union between knowledge and love is wisdom, and it is plentiful in these pages.
by Rose St. John
Expectant fathers today are often challenged with finding their place at birth as well as in the mine field of information on the subject, primarily designed for women. In her book, Fathers at Birth, Rose St. John handles both.
With the depth and breadth of the information, exercises and personal stories presented men no longer need to go on a voyeuristic journey through women’s literature. They can learn most of what there is to know about pregnancy, birth and the breastfeeding time in a book that is written for them and speaks directly to their questions and concerns, fears and hopes, needs and values.
Ms. St. John’s vast experience working with couples over several decades shines throughout. She also insightfully enlightens the reader about the nature of motherhood and what it is like for a woman. This is highly valuable for men during a time that begs answers to the age old question, what do women want; more specifically what do pregnant and birthing women want? Help is at hand! www.fathersatbirth.com review by Patrick Houser
by Leah Hazard
What do a Dutch university lecturer, a US Marine, a Scottish artist, and an English engineer have in common? They have all experienced the transformative power of home birth, and their stories-and many others- are told in this groundbreaking book. You may be surprised just how wonderful, and safe, birthing at home can be. Guys...this is a great one. www.homebirthbook.com
Ten secrets your husband won't tell you
by Hogan Hilling & Jesse Jayne Rutherford
This is a great book for supporting mothers to understand dads. Highly recommended.
Full of brilliant anthropology, sociology, psychology and hope for the future of children and the family. An anthology of the past and future history of our culture
vis-à-vis parenting. Compassionate and visionary.
If ever there was one book that a parent could read that would provide everything they need to know for the emotional development and health of their family, this is it.
Compassionate and visionary.
Elmer Postle reviewed the following 2 books for AIMS
(Association for Improvements in Maternity Services)
Men At Birth
edited by David Vernon
The moments men discuss the birth of their child is often brief, left to a brotherly, perhaps internal sense of awe and often a preference not to go down that road verbally.
Is There a Father in the House?
by James Torr
For the father of a toddler, the effect of James Torr’s book, 'Is There a Father in the House?', is to bless the presence of the father in the home. This territory, who looks after the children and the issues surrounding men’s involvement, Torr explores in his rewarding book. A personal angle: about 20% of the time I am at home looking after my son during the day while my partner Nicola, works. I find the background pressure of needing to bring in income, as a freelance worker, can mean there is pressure I put on my being with my son. Probably, some of this is real and, I think, some is imagined. I can sometimes find myself in such fear of not having enough income that I am not 'present' emotionally as I look after my son. I might find I am behaving in a perfunctory way, looking past the (divine) present to when I can get on with something 'more important', My Work. And, of course, this means I am not receiving the gift of my son’s presence, nor of my own fatherhood as if this isn't My Work also! A common enough perspective, I suspect, and one that James Torr with his book has created more space around, and an alternative vision for. He has made a small clearing where we can pitch a tent of 'involved father' more firmly and more satisfyingly.
His journey from city solicitor to 'daddy at home', strongly involved in parent-toddler groups, while his wife/partner is the key breadwinner is a courageous one. He has put himself into the cross currents of politics surrounding childcare and through doing so has elicited much fascinating information. This decision also gives him a unique vantage point to observe the process of how childcare is managed. His central thrust and interest has to do with the opportunity pregnancy and the time of birth offers for men's deeper involvement in the family. Torr points out the interesting fact that most men want to be present at the birth of their child. He therefore sees this as a time, which he supports with the available evidence, when there is an opportunity for bonding. This interest, growing over the last 20-30 years, he suggests, is a golden opportunity for the agencies that work with men to make the most of improving father/child relationships and therefore society. The case for 'why' this is important was not made so strongly, however. What you feel is that he is pointing towards the moment of birth as the time where there is potential for evolution in the way men are fathering and therefore how parenting is done.
It is interesting in this context to refer to Lloyd DeMause, author of 'The Foundations of Psychohistory' and the 'History of Childhood' among other books. DeMause says that parenting is evolving with each generation and actually our parenting has radically improved over the centuries. It used to be normal for infants to be exposed to the elements to die, in Greek and Roman times if they were inconvenient or supposed to be 'an offering to the gods'. It used to be usual for beating of children and sexual abuse within the family to be tolerated in society as a whole. What DeMause points out is that this evolution is based on parents becoming a little bit more aware than their parents before them, deciding, however subtly, that they are going to 'do it differently' than the way their parents brought them up. Whether to smack your child or not is the current edge of parenting evolution, its possible to argue, with DeMause and others insisting smacking internalises rage in the child with long term consequences. Some people carry on as their parents did before, others step into the new and decide something else; improvements take place over the generations. Sometimes things slip back and the 'snakes and ladders' counter slides down the snake to the bottom of the board and we have to start over, but/and there is incremental progress overall.
Whether you agree that its evolution or just an ongoing mess (and is there a difference?), Torr's observations about men and the moment of birth suggest he's seeing the point where an evolution in parenting DeMause talks about is taking place and is most visible. How men want to be at birth, are they involved or not, are they more there than ever, what does it mean? The questions he raises and the information he elicits are particularly useful when it comes to trying to persuade people in organisations to think differently or at least know there is another way of thinking about the beginnings of fatherhood. He offers practical thought provoking checklists to help ensure men’s involvement.
To sum up, it seems that Torr is talking about two things. Firstly a phenomenon; the evolution of men’s involvement in the family, starting with birth and secondly (at the same time), he describes, as Kazanstakis said, 'the 'whole catastrophe' of how we do it as families, men and women at this time, and it is rich in that. The book is a blessing, by a man, of men’s involvement in parenting.