Last night Channel 4 re-ran the first of our two episodes of ’16 Kids and Counting’. Once more we’ve had several lovely emails and messages, but one person in particular voiced their somewhat anxious – perhaps even angry – concerns in the comments over on this post on our site here.
As Gill posted publically, I began writing a public reply in the comments thread in response. Then the reply got a little long-winded so I thought I’d address her concerns in a brand new post, seeing as she’s probably not the only person to have them. After all, we are a little different and some people can’t fathom how you can possibly not live in the same way as everyone else and still have a successful, fulfilled life. Here is Gill’s comment quoted word for word:
“I think you are completely irresponsible! The number of cesarean sections you have had puts your life and baby at significant risk, it shows a complete ignorance of (and arrogance towards) medical advice! How are your children going to integrate into society? Are you planning on home University?”
I answer her questions here:
Thank you for taking the time to search out my site in order to leave your message. You sound quite upset in your words – I hope out of concern and not nastiness! Please allow me to reassure you.
My life and those of my children have never been in any danger at all – ever. I have a history of non-eventful, easy pregnancies, straightforward births (normal or c-sections), quick recovery and generally good health all round. There was quite some issue after ’15 Kids and Counting’ had negatively spun our twins’ pregnancy (that is, my pregnancy with the twins – not their pregnancy!) – creating a life-threatening issue which never even existed as you can read about here. Still, we’ve since learnt that that’s media for you! Anyway, back to the facts. My consultant has cared for me since 2003 and my fourth pregnancy, so she is more familiar with me, my medical history, my health and my situation than most women’s consultants are. After each birth we meet and discuss how things are. There have never been issues or medical reasons in which I or any of my children have been at risk and so have been given the go ahead to proceed with my pregnancies. Since filming the series we have gone on to have our 13th child – a boy! Once again the pregnancy, c-section and recovery were non-eventful and we have been given the go ahead to proceed with another pregnancy should we decide to. I hope I do not cause offence when I say that I would rather heed the advice of a knowledgeable consultant who knows me, my health and my body rather than the alarmist heedings of a stranger who doesn’t. In case you are unfamiliar, the NICE guidelines regarding c-sections are only just that – guidelines. They are often overlooked as being guidelines and not final and binding, and so I took the time to write this post on ‘How many c-sections can a woman have?’ which you might find informative and reasoned enough to expand your (I’m sure unintentional) blinkered assumptions.
Another area in which you seem to demonstrate seeming (again, I’m sure unintentional) ignorance is with a view to home education. It’s okay to be naive with regards to issues you are unfamiliar with so I put together a post which links to several more of the most asked questions regarding home education which I’d kindly recommend you read. You might want a cup of tea by your side as there is quite a lot to absorb there, but it’s well worth investing a little time to read through as it should reassure you that it provides a valid, legal and perfectly effective option of gaining an oustandingly successful education.
To begin with, may I point out that we are already ‘integrated into society’. We do not live isolated and alone as the Man in the Iron Mask did – although we did visit his fortress during our eight week road trip around France and Italy last year. Would you believe, we actually had to mix with various members of society in order to achieve this trip? Mixing publically? With people? Who would have thought it?! Forgive my mirth but your comment here had me conjuring up images of Flowers in the Attic! Of course, we do mix with ‘the outside world’ in all aspects of our lives. The kids go away to camps, Cait volunteers and runs craft sessions for toddlers, we travel as a family… oh and don’t forget the normal, everyday interactions.
I digress – yes, we are already a part of society – albeit living our lives differently to how some of society (including you, it seems) feels we ought to be living it. You might find this post on ‘Home education and Socialisation: Why it’s not a matter of one or the other’ eye-opening to read. Whilst you’re there, you might also find the 10 Myths of Home Education equally enlightening.
As for university, please do not worry yourself – we’ve already crossed that bridge also and I can confidently reassure you that your angst is unfounded and unnecessary. Our oldest, Ben, is currently full-time at a traditional bricks and mortar university – miles away from home, sadly – but he is at the one which offered the degree he wanted to do. However, Stephanie – our second – is studying part-time for her law degree through the Open University (or as you preferred to call it – home university). The degree is still a Bachelor of Arts, so requires the same work as a traditional university would offer, but it allows her to study from home whilst she works her two jobs – her main full-time job as a claims adjuster for an insurance company, plus her second job through which she’s hoping will help her save enough for her house deposit. So you see, it is not where a person receives their education, but how hard they work at getting it which will make all the difference.
Gill, I would like to thank you once more for taking the time to comment. I am sure that many out there misunderstand the things that they are not familiar with, and I know that sometimes people feel more uncomfortable when faced with situations or issues that they know little about. I do hope that I have managed to reassure you somewhat and that you do take the time to read the links I have included. Sometimes we all need to step outside of things we ‘think’ we know about and stop claiming legitimacy of them when in fact we know very little about them at all. It can be embarrassing in these cases, when all it results in is our ignorance being displayed, rather than our tolerance and understanding being exercised.
I wish you well.