Wednesday 23 October 2019

Sinéad Moriarty: 'The mother and father of all debates'

Notebook

'Do we really have to get rid of ‘father’ and ‘mother’?' Stock photo
'Do we really have to get rid of ‘father’ and ‘mother’?' Stock photo

Sinéad Moriarty

Au revoir, 'mère' and 'père'. The labels of 'mother' and 'father' have been removed from forms used in France's schools. France's National Assembly has made an amendment to the nation's School of Trust Bill which sees the term 'mother' and 'father' being replaced with 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2'.

This new law is being hailed as a move designed to avoid discriminating against same-sex parents.

While some have welcomed the law, believing no one should be faced with old fashioned forms with out-of-date options, others are not so happy.

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Is this progress and inclusion or is it, as one MEP described it, "over-the-top pseudo-progressive delirium?"

France is not the first, nor will it be the last, to go down this road. Eighteen months ago, Catholic schools in England and Wales banned the terms 'mother' and 'father' from their admissions forms following a complaint that the terms discriminated against gays and step-parents.

They were replaced with 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2' because the parent in question had been asked to fill in a form which left spaces only for the names of 'mother/guardian' and 'father/guardian" and argued the terms discriminated against "separated, step- and gay parents".

But surely the term 'guardian' covers all kinds of parents? Isn't 'guardian' vague enough to be anyone from a parent, grandparent, godparent, step-parent or even random neighbour?

Do we really have to get rid of 'father' and 'mother'? Surely 'guardian' is nicer than 'parent 1'? What if the person filling out the form isn't a parent? What if they're a grandparent or a godparent or a friend of a deceased parent?

Besides, how are a 'mother' and 'father' or same-sex couple going to decide who is 'parent 1' and who is 'parent 2'? I foresee arguments ahead!

My comfort zone grows between (clean) sheets

One of my resolutions for this year was to enjoy the small pleasures in life. In my opinion, there is nothing more joyful than slipping into a freshly made bed. The feel and smell of crisp, clean sheets is a pleasure like no other.

I would take climbing into a freshly made bed over a massage or pedicure any day. It costs almost nothing and does not involve vast amounts of time or effort.

And I'm not just imagining the joy it brings. Research has proven clean bedding improves your sleep. A US National Sleep Foundation study found 73pc of us sleep better on fresh sheets.

I have also recently started buying really good quality bedding. Instead of buying more clothes I don't need, I find myself spending on soft Egyptian cotton with a high thread count.

Yes, I realise this makes me sound old and boring, but I can assure you that once you have spent a night of slumber on high quality bedding, you will never look back.

Being paid for recycling? It's money for old rope

I've been on a bit of a recycling, anti-plastic crusade lately. I've been trying to encourage people to leave unwanted plastic at supermarket checkouts and buy reusable take-out cups. Ireland, a leader in charging for plastic bag use, has fallen behind its European neighbours regarding recycling plastics and cans.

We need to look at what's happening in Denmark, where stores have introduced reverse vending machines which accept bottles and cans and scan the deposit mark, barcode and shape. It then calculates how much to refund to you. So you are getting paid to recycle - there's incentive for you.

Between this and the plastic-free supermarket aisles in the Netherlands, our neighbours are ahead of the game. We need to sit up, take note and follow suit.

Irish Independent

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