Griscom, R. (Producer) & Volkman, A. (Producer) (December 2010). Let’s talk about parenting taboos. USA: accessed 10/27/2015. http://bit.ly/1PPdbzd.
Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman are the co-founders of Babble.com, a website that aggregates blogs, articles and news for parents. Babble.com became so popular that it was acquired by Disney in 2011, although its content has not changed much since then. Rufus and Alisa are also married and have three sons together, and in this Ted Talk they discuss four parenting taboos that they believe people should be discussing more openly:
So taboo number three: you can’t talk about your miscarriage — but today I’ll talk about mine. As I was working through that mourning process, I was amazed that I didn’t want to see anybody. I really wanted to crawl into a hole, and I didn’t really know how I was going to work my way back into my surrounding community. And I realize, I think, the way I was feeling that way, is on a really deep gut level, I was feeling a lot of shame and embarrassed, frankly, that, in some respects, I had failed at delivering what I’m genetically engineered to do. And of course, it made me question, if I wasn’t able to have another child, what would that mean for my marriage, and just me as a woman.
And I just remember feeling all these stories came out of the woodwork, and I felt like I happened upon this secret society of women that I now was a part of, which was reassuring and also really concerning. And I think, miscarriage is an invisible loss. There’s not really a lot of community support around it. There’s really no ceremony, rituals, or rites. And I think, with a death, you have a funeral, you celebrate the life, and there’s a lot of community support, and it’s something women don’t have with miscarriage.
These two nuggets demonstrate that parents, especially women, suffering the loss of a child greatly benefit from being able to discuss their mourning openly with others. However, as Alisa and Rufus explore on the video above, miscarriage (and I would add child death) is a taboo topic so most people rather not talk about it – even though “15 to 20% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage” as Rufus mentions. Alisa’s story supports the notion that the Internet is a crucial tool for mourning parents, as discussed by Whitehead (2015). In this article, the author argues that blogging about the loss of a child allows parents to reframe their experience, making it meaningful to the bigger context of their families and communities.
Of course the ideal would be for the taboo to be broken and parents discuss their experiences in “real life”, but as mentioned on the video the majority of women who suffered a miscarriage blamed themselves for what happened, and 22% said they wouldn’t even tell their spouses about it. So clearly we still have a long ways in making this topic normal. Until then, forums, blogs and social media offer privacy (and sometimes even anonymity), and the possibility of extending the much needed conversations to virtually every corner of the world.