World breastfeeding week – article Pt 2

Medical research has shown that newborns who are breastfed run a lower risk of getting many chronic illnesses later on in life. Hence the older generation should re-think and encourage their daughters and daughters-in-laws to nurture their descendants in the best possible way.

Everyone of us can play a part in breastfeeding. We can spread the news of the goodness of breast milk to people who do not have the advantage of acquiring the latest information. When we come across a mother nursing her baby in public, we can give her a smile of admiration instead of showing her to the nearest nursing room.

We should stop thinking of women’s breasts as mere sex objects. Women who are afraid that breastfeeding can affect their figure and image ought to find out the truth instead of blindly believing in myths.

If everyone starts to see breastfeeding in a different light, more mothers will be encouraged to breastfeed. In our fast developing country, we may forget the basics of good parenting.

We want the best for our children but in our eagerness, we may forget that money and substitutes are not enough. Children need the time, love and care of their parents. What better way to bond with the baby than through breastfeeding.

Chan Lilian, Penang

World breastfeeding week – article Pt 1

Source – The Star Online dd August 3rd, 2004

Strengthening ties

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1-7)

WE OFTEN view breastfeeding as something practised by mothers in underdeveloped countries. Due to this distorted perception, one of the most beautiful means of mother and baby bonding has not been given the recognition it deserves.

It is time for everyone to look at this nurturing act in a new light. Breastfeeding opens up a whole new world that many of us have not explored. It is not about breasts or a hungry baby: it is about building a relationship and taking stock of the meaning of parenthood.

Most urban children may not have witnessed a mother lovingly nurturing her baby.

Some do not even know that humans can produce milk. What they have seen are probably a litter of puppies, kittens or other wild animals fighting for their mothers’ milk on the cartoon or documentary channels. Has anyone ever seen a Hollywood blockbuster or any of those family series featuring a mother breastfeeding her baby? No!

We have been brought up to think that milk comes from the udder of cows which dot the vast, green meadows.

We would expect the older generation – grandmothers and grandfathers – to be more aware of the importance of breastfeeding. But sadly, many of them grew up in a generation sold on the idea that imported goods are best. It was a status symbol in the 1960s and 1970s to be able to afford not to breastfeed.

However, let us look at the developed nations. Research has shown that developed nations have the highest rate of breastfeeding. These mothers are from the higher-income and higher education group. This clearly proves that breastfeeding is the smart choice of smart families.

With all the medically proven research to show that breastfeeding is beneficial to the health of mothers and babies, we must seriously look at how we can take advantage of this wonderful gift from nature. How can we ignore all the health benefits and magical bonding that breastfeeding offers?

There is no better protection and security for baby than in the mother’s warm embrace, lovingly nurtured with her precious milk.

Instilling Traditions – Part 2

I remember that as children, we often complained about all the cumbersome things we had to do on our parents’ insistence. For example, the many dos and don’ts related to the Chinese New Year and other celebrations. However, as we grow older, we tend to reminisce about our childhood.

Things that we found insignificant when we were young remain in our memories and give us a sense of joy as we remember all the good times we had with our parents or long-lost friends. Recently, a group of mothers and I had a wonderful time comparing notes on how Chinese New Year was spent when we were children. There were fireworks blasting in the kampung, the gathering of the whole village to prepare Chinese New Year goodies and the elaborate meals dished up by our grandmothers. Each of us felt a certain sense of pride now even though it probably was not that exciting then.

This prompted me to map out a list of things that I wanted to inculcate in my four sons. For a start, they can help in the spring-cleaning prior to Chinese New Year, followed by the preparations for the New Year eve dinner. Though my sons are young, ranging in age from one to 14, I know it is never too early to plant in them the seeds of togetherness.

Over a simple home-cooked dinner, I fire their imaginations, challenging them to think of a future when they have their own families. My squabbling second and third sons were amused when I painted a picture of them as grandfathers, having their reunion dinner with the whole clan, and still bickering like they often do now.

Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between tradition and religious practices. For example, I still hold on dearly to the Qing Ming tradition of clearing the graves, sprucing them up with some new paint and spending a morning with the clan to honour our departed ones.

Being a new Christian convert, I had to find an acceptable way to show respect to our ancestors without burning paper paraphernalia and offering food and wine. I hope my children will faithfully hold on to the tradition of honouring their great-grandparents and grandparents every Qing Ming festival. I would very much like to see them going to every one of their ancestors’ graves, clearing them, placing some flowers there and offering a prayer to God.

Though I may not know many Chinese traditions, I shall treasure the ones my parents handed down to me and pass them on to my sons. One festival which I look forward to is the Chinese Winter Solstice or Dong Zhi Festival which falls on Dec 22.

It is a tradition for Chinese families to mark the occasion by making tang yuen or glutinous rice balls which are served in sweet ginger soup. My children enjoy shaping the coloured dough into marble-sized balls. As this festival falls just a few days before Christmas, it offers a unique blend of Chinese culture and our Christian faith. It is a season of togetherness and being with the family.

I hope every family, irrespective of race or religion, will instil a sense of tradition in their children. Children will grow up and leave the home and maybe even the country but these traditions will cement their roots. As Malaysians we have a myriad of traditional practices. Our open house hospitality, for example, is very much a Malaysian thing. Such traditional practices will also benefit our children and help create a harmonious society.
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