OK, so maybe the expectations about motherhood have been raised too high ("World's worst mom," Jan. 22). What's parenting really like? Infants come into the world lacking the ability to regulate themselves. That's what parents have to do — rock them, calm them, clean them, feed them, hold them, listen to them, guide them — as they learn self-control. A baby's transition to maturity is gradual and demands a lot of a parent. The goal is to raise a young adult who is emotionally secure, competent and confident. To achieve the goal, parents need to be loving, firm and supportive. That's a demanding and tall order, especially when parents have other things going on in their lives — employment, partner relationships, extended family, friends, keeping good health, household tasks, community engagement, and time for a bit of personal fun. "Bad moms" should pull up their socks and share problem-solving in ways that are respectful of their child and themselves. One good idea is for all parents to participate in the education and support that's provided by Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education programs.

Marilyn Martin Rossmann, St. Paul

The writer is a retired University of Minnesota professor of family education.


Personal motives vs. personal freedom

As someone who has struggled with infertility and miscarriage, I found it in extremely poor taste that the Jan. 22 article about abortion ("Private decisions amid a public debate") profiled a woman whose only reasons to terminate her pregnancy seemed to be that she already had "three children at home" and that upcoming college coursework would be keeping her busy. Rather than "demystifying" abortion, which was the clinic's intent, the procedure was highly romanticized. Details like the "fluffy blanket," "herbal tea" and "gentle Peruvian music" made it sound more like a spa visit that would help the woman clear her mind — not to mention her schedule — for her studies, rather than what it really was: taking the life of her unwanted and inconvenient fourth child.

Kara Johnson, Bloomington

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I appreciate the significance of the proposed 20-week-ban bill being pulled from congressional consideration on the Roe vs. Wade anniversary, due to GOP women not wanting to pass a bill that would "limit exemptions for rape and incest." Really, I do. I think that is a common-sense reaction from most Americans. But what I can't wrap my head around is that the replacement of a bill to ban public funding for abortion care for low-income people does not prevent these same people from also voting against this bill. This not only perpetuates the myth that there are "good" or "bad" abortions, open to discussion by everyone but the woman and her doctor, it also serves as a reminder that some believe that being poor in America means you give up your ability to make your own decisions.

Linnea House, Minneapolis

Clinical validity is already taken seriously

In response to "Mayo fights added scrutiny of lab tests" (Jan. 18), readers should know that laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) are regulated by the federal government under a strict framework that establishes quality standards and inspections. To imply that new, FDA-proposed rules would set a precedent for clinical validity review of LDTs is misleading, and to state that "[n]o one looks at their clinical validity" is dishonest. The vast majority of labs are directed by medical professionals who take clinical validity very seriously.

Screening tests, especially prenatal tests, require a dialogue between physician and patient. This patient education is a critical component in the treatment decisionmaking process. FDA oversight of LDTs would have no impact on this.

The FDA proposal will turn the clock backward on innovation and limit patients' access to tests available to them now. This is contrary to the goal of providing the best health care available to every American.

The lab community has long supported increased oversight and patient protections through the current regulatory process that protects innovation and patient access to lifesaving treatment.

Dr. Edward R. Ashwood, Salt Lake City

The writer is president and CEO of ARUP Laboratories and is a professor of pathology at the University of Utah.


Will any leader help remove the obstacles?

I became disabled with IBM (inclusion body myositis) in 2006. In the last three years, I have tried to find a part-time job to supplement my income, with no success. I have found an incredible amount of discrimination relative to individuals with handicaps. I have filed three complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but it takes years for that agency to resolve anything. There do not seem to be partnerships with companies that are willing to hire people with disabilities. Companies do not seem to be willing to risk hiring people with disabilities and are willing to violate the law in the process.

People with disabilities have an unemployment rate more than twice the national average. I know Gov. Mark Dayton has an executive order for the state to hire more people with disabilities, but this does nothing to cover the private sector.

Gerald W. Knudson, Faribault, Minn.

There is validation of its effectiveness

A Jan. 15 letter writer took the Head Start program to task from the viewpoint that such programs do nothing to improve school and social readiness of the children they serve.

I am not a pediatrician, but I am an internist. A Nov. 26 article in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association (http://tinyurl.com/prk5e74) did speak to the issue. This was a study comparing half-day to full-day preschool and school readiness. I will quote the summary: "Participation in high-quality early childhood intervention programs has been associated with greater school readiness and success. Whether full-day vs. part-day attendance improves outcomes is not known. In an analysis of end-of-preschool data from predominantly low-income children enrolled in a full-day or part-day high-quality, evidence-based preschool program, Reynolds and colleagues found that the full-day intervention was associated with increased school readiness skills — including socioemotional development, language and math — and higher rates of attendance compared with the part-day program."

We will spend less money on these human beings with a greater return on our investment if we spend it on education, compared with waiting until they are dysfunctional adults and trying to help them then. Schooling, although expensive, is always less expensive than paying for prison. I think it is important that people have facts behind their opinion pieces. Naysayers are almost always wrong.

Dr. David J. Walcher, Burnsville