Thursday, 17 October 2013

Free to Choose

"I want my child to be free to choose his own religion."

It's something I've heard parents say so often. Right before they announce that in order for that to happen they're going to keep their child in ignorance of what different religions teach and believe. Which is where their desire for their child's free choice disappears. 

There is no such thing as choice if you don't have all the information necessary to make a choice. 

And it's funny, but I find that the majority of people who talk this sort of nonsense are the same ones who make a huge fuss if they themselves are expected to make decisions without having access to all the knowledge they need. 

Is it really a free choice to leave your baby to cry it out if you've not been told of the psychological and physical dangers of the method?
Is it really a free choice to formula feed if you've only been given false information about its similarity to breast milk and received no support to do otherwise?
Is it really a free choice to vote for an MP who hasn't provided honest answers to questions on policy?
Is it really a free choice to eat what you're given at dinner simply because you've been told there is no other food in the house?

And that's what this comes down to - dishonesty and coercion and mistrust. If we want our children to grow up to freely choose their own religion or lack thereof, we have an obligation to allow them to meet and mix with members of all sorts of religions and none; to learn about beliefs that differ from our own; to trust that they will follow their own hearts and to allow them to do so. Depriving our children of information and experience is to make them ignorant, and we live in an age where ignorance is unforgivable, for there is no end of information at our fingertips.

I want my children to choose to follow Christ, as the hubby and I do, but I do not want to force that upon them. They will experience life in a Christian family, but in order for them to have the free choice, I will ensure they have ample opportunities to discover and explore the teachings and beliefs of other religions. 

When God created us, He gave us free will. It was a dangerous move. With that one decision, He enabled us to choose to live without Him. But He also ensured that all those who love Him do so through their own freedom. Love that is forced is not love.

Can we not trust and respect our children in the same way?

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Review: Pregnancy Planner App by Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V.

Disclaimer: This app was gifted to me, free of charge, by the people at Pregnancy Planner, to be reviewed. However, this review is my unbiased and  honest opinion of the product.

Product: Pregnancy Planner iPhone App
Price: £1.49 - Available from the iTunes App Store
Age Range:
Manufacturer’s Description: Pregnancy Planner is a comprehensive pregnancy app for soon-to-be parents. Be informed and entertained during the pregnancy and share your baby's development with friends & family over Facebook or Twitter. Extensive tips, daily & weekly tips and information and high quality 3d imagery make this the complete package!
Features include extensive information on the baby's development daily & weekly, pregnancy time tips for sports, sex, nutrition, travel and more, and a list of baby names to pick & share to your family & friends.
Rating:   (3/5 stars)

Review: I'm currently about 34 weeks into my second pregnancy, and so, while I consider myself to be somewhat experienced in the art of surviving pregnancy and all it entails, I was still keen to try another app that would take me through the joys and trials of growing a small human being inside me.

When you first open the app, there is a quick tutorial that takes you through what each section of the app does. And you can easily access the tutorial again by tapping the 'i' button. Inputting your due date is very straightforward.

As you can see, your pregnancy's progress is shown at the top of the page, not only in weeks and days, but also showing how many weeks, days, hours and seconds are left until your due date. I found it very easy to remain in denial about how quickly this pregnancy was progressing until I saw the scrolling countdown! Not sure whether that's a positive or a negative though, I'm afraid.

 Beneath that you will see the average size and weight of your baby, and it is this information that is sent if you choose to email your progress to daddy//grandma/friend. So, not a huge amount of detail in the progress sharing function, but enough to satisfy a bit of curiosity.

Tapping the size/weight area takes you to the weekly update on the baby and you. Last time around I used some free pregnancy apps - I'm always reluctant to pay for apps, when there are free ones available! I've reinstalled them onto my iPhone this time, but have very rarely looked at them, due to the amount of time they take to read. With an active, no-nap toddler to run around after, I just don't have the time for the detail they provide. Therefore, it has been a pleasant experience to use Pregnancy Planner, as for a second-time pregnancy I have found it both quick and simple to use. There is just enough information to reassure and remind me, and because the development status is refreshed weekly, rather than daily, there is no need for me to feel bad or behind if I don't manage to open it up each week. I have found some interesting information in this section, and some that I already knew, and there have been a few helpful weekly tips in there too.

Each week has an artist's representation of a baby at your current gestation would look like, accompanied by a weekly tip or piece of information about the baby's development, just a sentence long.

The daily tips do change daily, but these too are only a sentence long. As a second-timer, I appreciate the brevity of these, but if this was my first pregnancy I would be a bit miffed, as some of the weekly tips require a bit more independent research, and others seem a bit irrelevant or even unhelpful at times. As someone who is supposed to be keeping an eye on their blood sugars, I didn't relish the tip that stated, 'Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate'! Also, some of them are a bit odd. One day I was told to 'Check your papers' expiry dates.' No idea what papers it was referring to, so I can only assume the app was originally intended for users outside of the UK.

In addition to the tips and information on the Calendar page, there is a Tips & Questions section, providing answers on various subjects:
Nutrition - useful if you can't remember what types of cheese are banned, but not particularly detailed. So, again, not highly useful for a first time pregnancy.
Sports - a bit more detail here, including lists of sports/exercise that are suitable and unsuitable during pregnancy.
Health - information on various pregnancy related ailments and tips for dealing with them. I haven't found the Heartburn section to help me in any way, but the tips in there are the sensible, normal ways of dealing with it!
Travel - Some helpful tips in here.
Sex - One of the more helpful sections, as it's less embarrassing to read the information in an app than to have to go Googling! Again though, if you've been pregnant before, it's likely you managed to alter your sex life the previous time and I haven't found any new information or tips in this section.

The most helpful section in the Tips & Questions area is the Checklist, which I've found to be a helpful reminder of things I need to locate or buy before the baby comes. It's also been useful just to read through to reminisce about what I bought last time and didn't use!

There is also a list of baby names to browse through. They are easy to add to a list of names you like, and you can also manually add names that don't appear on the lists, but I was disappointed that they didn't provide meanings to go with the names.

This app is quick and simple to use. It has an uncluttered layout and it's easy to navigate. For a second timer, I've found Pregnancy Planner helpful and I've enjoyed the brevity of the information provided. I already know what I'm going through, and the odd reminder here and there has been useful. It's also been handy for checking how many weeks I am, as I haven't been keeping such a close check on dates this time around. However, I don't feel there is enough information in here for a first pregnancy, when you're full of questions and worry.

Although this isn't an expensive app, I would have been disappointed if I'd paid for it, as there is much more information available in many of the free apps available on the App Store. I think if I'd bought it for my previous pregnancy I would have been much more disappointed though.