I believe we have an obligation to protect life, I believe we have a responsibility to speak for those without a voice and I also believe we don’t have a right to unjustly discriminate. But lately, in spite of these beliefs, I have had a hard time coming to terms with the way we take such vocal positions when Lions are killed or people are prevented from marrying the person of their choice but say nothing when comparatively greater evils exercise their existence.
The news, social media, general conversation and anywhere in between has recently been abuzz with the topic of marriage. Gay, straight, created by God, governed by law, valuable, pointless, all of these have been raised. Regardless of the position you hold, I hold fast to the belief that it is the most amazing idea, something only God could create, sustain and perhaps end. I have been amazed at the positions both for and against marriage as they seem to miss one vital truth. This truth seems to escape much of the arguments, this truth is so simple, yet few have raised it. The truth is that marriage is perfect!
There is a word as prevalent as it is nightmarish. It haunts the hallways of schools, hides in the dark places and lays in wait for its next victim. Many children face the light of day pregnant with fear that this day will repeat the horrors they felt yesterday and the days before that. So many children are facing the morning school run with a fear that could level a heavyweight boxer by the second round.
Bullies have the ability to rip away the innocence, the joy and the wonder that should form the basis of our children’s reality. From the subtle look over his shoulder to see if his captor will allow him to make the choice he is faced with to the blatant assault he endures at the hands of the “ones in power”.
South African media has launched a tirade of articles in recent weeks exposing the hell that many children find themselves never escaping. From social media rants, emotional barrages, group punishment to full-blown physical warfare.
I don’t profess to be an expert on the material, but this is what I have experienced:
I recently read an article written by someone who understands that parenting is a team sport. It was entitled “Dads are Men, not idiots“. It was a fascinating read and presented something our family has naturally adopted. Yet while I am fully capable of putting on a full load of washing, administering medicine, washing behind my kid’s ears, changing a nappy in the dark and yes, oh yes, making dinner, many Dad’s still seem to hold the position that these abilities are super-naturally endowed and typically require the holder of such cosmic gifts to have breasts. In short, you must be a woman, or at least on your way to becoming one.
The article reminded me of a time where I was at apparent risk of increasing my estrogen levels. When my son was around 6 months old, I was handed the challenge of unemployment. Whatever the reasons, I found myself a kept man for around half a year. It was a difficult time, not so much because I was without work, but because my wife had to lay down her dream of staying at home with our first little man. She had to sacrifice her dream for a period so that I could experience the challenging gift of being a stay at home dad. Continue reading
I never went to Sunday school, but with the benefit of children and kiddy friendly worship CD’s I am able to close my eyes and sing the fruit of the spirit song in my head, you know the one “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness and ……” What’s the last one? Oh yes, SELF CONTROL.
I must admit, I seldom put any focus on the fact that self control is a Fruit of the Spirit. I often act as if it’s presence has very little to do with my choices and more to do with how others treat me.
The greatest indicator of this Fruit’s absence in my life is shown by my reaction to my sons’ when they decide to find every button that I possess and proceed, with surgical accuracy, to push each and every one of them, over and over again. Typically this happens when we are already 10 minutes late for something, lacking my morning coffee intake or just generally when I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, something I feel, at least at the moment, is not my fault and cannot be controlled by me either.
I remember sitting in my first adoption training session at a local church, staring at a board, engaging with the questions around why adoption rates in South Arica are so low. I was faced with a question around the screening behind adoption and whether our checks and balances are too strict.
I remember clearly, declaring with absolute certainty that they were, only to be comprehensively rebuffed by the lady leading the course that the processes followed in screening parents were not to blame. More than this they were necessary, practical and perhaps slightly too lenient.
We have come a fair way since that first “knowledgable” outburst of mine, but the question still remains, what is the solution?
Every now and then I come across something that makes me wish I had a time machine. That time machine would help me travel back in time to those moments we all wish we could forget, the moments where life hands us a massive portion of NO-YOU-DON’T KNOW-EVERYTHING-PIE.
I typically have those moments in the context of parenting. Thankfully, because life is the best teacher and kids tend to leak grace in bucket loads, parents tend to navigate through the ebbs and flows of parenting, hopefully without permanent damage to ourselves or our kids. nevertheless, there are moments I’d wish I knew then what I know now. Such a moment occurred when I read an article on adopting older children by Candace Wheeler.
At the risk of sounding unoriginal, I think it would be so helpful for adoptive parents or would be adoptive parents to read, remember and absorb the following answers to behaviours we have all experienced at some time or another. In fact, any parent for that matter could benefit, because adoptive kid’s challenges aren’t alien to those of natural-born kids, after all, they’re still children, just maybe in need of a little more tenderness. The essence comes from the article, I’ve just added some flavouring.
Child: Say something,
Father: I’m giving up on you.
Child: I’ll be the one if you want me to? Anywhere, I would have followed you! Say something!
Father: I’m giving up on you!
Such a sad dialogue, full of raw emotion, a desperate desire for belonging and also a cry for help. Perhaps not the direction a Great Big World and Christina meant the interaction to follow, but to me, it sounds like the interaction between a father and son/daughter as they attempt to find value and worth in the eyes of that father, and as with many, fail to find it because that parent may not care or perhaps is just worn out and needs a break. Be careful though, while needing space is important and necessary, some things are taught and others are caught, not by what we hear, but rather by the way things are said.
Many Fathering advocates will come up with a bold list of moral and societal challenges, all of which fall squarely at the feet of dads who missed the mark, or worse, never even tried. A quick search will find the ills for which these dads are held accountable: Poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and emotional illnesses, educational under achievement, crime, sexual activity and teen pregnancy fill only 6 categories.
“But that’s not me” you might say, “I am not that dad!” You may be correct. The question now becomes, what type of dad are you? Are you actively ensuring your kids don’t fall prey to statistics? What ripples does our subtle indifference cause in the lives of our children? We can forget how parents are looked to for support, that gentle smile a subtle glance in their direction. All these act as a natural steroid to our children’s abilities, coaxing them, encouraging them, believing in them.
So as a forerunner to my next article, technology vs the parent – 4 reasons why you are losing, here’s a video that wets the appetite. It is from 2009, so all stats will be somewhere north of the numbers shown, which at least gives good cause for a little thought anyway.