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Archive for the ‘father’ Category

Attentive to Habit

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, The Family, Values on August 29, 2014 at 10:38 am

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My father wanted me to be as well prepared for life as I could be. He was attentive and took time to correct misconduct when needed. He was home enough, and I was into mischief enough, that it seemed I was in “the doghouse” throughout my childhood. He was not austere but was simply unable to let any inappropriate behavior sink too deep into habit before being corrected. I was a sensitive young man, and I never took his correcting very well. He had a practice, however, which always repaired my hurt “little boy” feelings and brought us close even when I felt he was very demanding. On Sunday afternoons he would often say, “Let’s go for a walk around the track.” I grew up on a small farm in northern California, and every spring Dad would disc and scrape a flat track around the perimeter. It was approximately one third of a mile around, and we used it for running, driving practice, and to bring loads of fruit home from the orchards in the pickup truck. Dad and I would walk around that track and talk. It was usually a one-sided conversation at first. Dad began by reinforcing the folly of my misbehavior but then spent the bulk of the time reminding me of who he knew I was piece by piece. I can still remember him telling me how handsome I was, what a good boy I was, and that I would turn out to be a great man. He made me feel like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. This building time would usually open me up so that by the end, I was the one doing most of the talking. It was a deliberate expression of his love for me, an intentional strategy to create a confident young man. I would not be who I am today without his loving correction.

 

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Edwin Wells’ story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 25. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.

 

Debating Marriage

In Abstinence, adoption, Child Development, Courts, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Gender, Government, Health Care, Homosexuality, Marriage, Parenting, Religion, Research, Same-Sex Marriage, Sanctity of Life, Schools, Sexual Orientation, Single Mothers, The Family, Values, Violence on August 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

marriage debate

by Diane Robertson

As the many marriage cases move through the court system supporters of marriage often find themselves in conversations in which they must defend their stance on marriage and family. This can be a very stressful conversation. Even the best and smartest debaters risk losing friends, isolating family members, or becoming victim to harsh words. Here are some ways that may be helpful while having the conversations and hopefully staying on the good side of family and friends.

  1. Ask a question before giving an answer. Catholic blogger, Jonathan Van Maren described a situation where responding with a question was the best answer. His story goes thus:

    “One friend demanded to know why I wasn’t sleeping around. I responded with a question: ‘How many of the people that you were with do you wish you hadn’t hooked up with?’ After a pause, the thoughtful response: ‘Most of them, I guess. Maybe even all of them.’”

  2. Be wary of smoke screen or strawman arguments and use social science and reason to call them out. I had an encounter with a stranger online. I had posted this website which addresses conjugal view of marriage and why it is important for society to support mother/father families.

    This man replied:

    “Diane that whole article can be summed up in the conclusion: ‘if we are correct about the likely harms of redefining marriage,’ That’s a big if don’t you think? So what your saying is we should round up all families that are not Father, Child, Mother because they are bad for society?


So is it better to have a father who beats his kids or molests them than to send him away to jail and not have one present at all? If two parents are killed in a car accident and the kids are taken in by an Aunt who is single then that too is destroying the fabric of society?”

Here is how I replied to his nonsense:

“You are using smokescreen arguments to avoid the real points. Obviously most people are better off without an abuser and there are laws to protect victims of abuse as you well know.

 

Here are some honest arguments addressing your smokescreen.

 

  1. Has it ever occurred to you that denying a child of one of their biological parents for the sexual advantage of another is not its own kind of abuse? Biological roots are deeply ingrained into the human soul. Everyone desires to know who they are and where they come from. Adopted children fought for a long time to have adoption records open so they could more easily trace back to those roots. Donor children are currently fighting that same battle.

 

  1. Children whose parents have died are disadvantaged and they know it. It would not be fair to pretend their suffering at the loss of their parents is fake or wrong just because other people want to purposely inflict a similar situation on children for the sexual advantage of the adults.

 

  1. Fatherless children are indeed disadvantaged. If you do not believe fatherless children are harming the fabric of society then take a look at the statistics and then try to imagine what it will be like when a whole bunch of children grow up without a mother. Taxes will surely increase so that government can take up the slack where the parents failed.

 

Statistics of the Fatherless

 

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Health/Census).

90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.

85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).

80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26).

71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report).

70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988).

85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction).

71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999)”

 

  1. Speak the language of the person you are debating: If your conversation is with someone who has religious beliefs then use religion. If your conversation is with someone who does not believe religion, then use social science.
  2. Be prepared. Really know your topic and don’t be afraid to mimic the language of the pros. Spend time researching and reading the issues. Know the current events associated with marriage. (Personally, I think Ryan Anderson is a great person to read and learn from.)
  3. And remember no matter how hard or tense it gets. Remain calm, smile, and never, ever call names.

Grandmother’s Wisdom

In Child Development, Divorce, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Values on August 19, 2014 at 6:33 am

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by Nathalie Bowman

Last week my grandmother passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was almost 92 years old. Grandmothers have wonderful life lessons to share.

The wisdom of Grandma Nielsen:

  1. Gambling is NOT allowed. One year, when I was 16 or 17, one of my favorite cousins was surprised I didn’t know how to play poker, so he arranged a game. But we needed something to bet with. hhhmmmm…… There was a new convenience store across the highway, and several of us cool teenagers walked across the busy highway and stocked up on penny candy as our poker chips. We got swedish fish, sour patch kids, gummy berries and I can’t even remember what else. But it was awesome. We were all ready to play. Our family cabin had lots of open space, but we managed to find a quiet, secluded corner for our game. We knew face cards were forbidden, so we used a deck of Rook cards for our game. My cousin got us all situated and gave out some of the candy to start. Just as he began explaining how to play, we hear grandma’s voice screeching, “Are you playing POKER?!?”  Yes, we had to admit sheepishly. How did we think we could get away with that? Grandma says No Gambling. Even with penny candy. We were foiled.
  2. Families ties are important! Grandma had a dream that someday she would have a cabin for her children and grandchildren to gather every year for a family reunion. That dream came true in 1981 when we built our family cabin. Grandma even gave it a name: NielsenHaven. This cabin became a haven where we made many happy memories. Grandma’s highest priority during her life was her family. She and grandpa had 8 children, 44 grandchildren, 147 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren at the time of her death. And her greatest legacy is that we enjoy being together.
  3. Make everyone feel special. I was never personally very close to Grandma. We lived about 40 minutes away, and we mostly visited her during family events, so there were many people around. However, even with the lack of personal time with her, I always knew I was very important to her. She loved all of us, I could tell, but whenever I talked to her, she made me feel like the most important person on the planet. She had a wonderful ability to be interested in each of her family members and remembered details of her 44 grandchildren. I always felt special with her.
  4. Tell Family Stories. Grandma always wanted to make sure we knew about her parents and grandparents as well as my grandpa’s family. They were our family, and she wanted us to know these wonderful people who were a part of her life.  She put together an amazing book of stories and history about our family. By telling these stories to us of our pioneer ancestors she helped create a sense of pride in who we are and a feeling of belonging that has spanned over the many many years.
  5. “You can create your own…” When I first heard of my grandma’s passing last week, I was surprised at how much it affected me. She was told by her doctors that she only had 2 months to live, and she kept going for 4 more years! She had gone downhill recently and the family knew she wouldn’t last much longer. The news that she had finally gone shook me to the core. I realized that because of my parent’s divorce and my dad’s subsequent remarriage, the little-girl self inside me didn’t feel like she ever belonged in a family. Then I realized that the only time I truly felt like I was a part of any family was when I was at those family reunions at our cabin. I knew I belonged there! And now the creator of that family legacy was gone. What would happen now? We would all drift apart, and that would be the end. It felt so final. Then I felt a thought come into my head….I could create my own family heritage with my children and their families. I can teach them about who they are and why their family ties are important just like my grandma did! I can create happy memories and fun times with my family even if we’re struggling at times. I can do what she did!

Although I didn’t used to believe it, I now know that family ties and happy family relationships are possible for all of us! Start by following grandma’s advice – the advice of your grandma,  or mine, it doesn’t matter. Just begin. and enjoy the fruits of wonderful family relationships!

The Truth About Porn

In Child Development, Courts, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Government, Marriage, Media, Parenting, Pedophilia, Pornography, Research, Schools, Sex Education, Technology, The Family, Values, Violence on August 11, 2014 at 5:34 am

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By: Kristen Jan Heimuli 

            It’s a $57 billion a year industry worldwide; $12 billion right here in the U.S. Its revenue is larger than all combined revenues of professional basketball, football, and baseball franchises. It transcends the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC networks. With over 372 million web pages, it takes up 12 percent of the Internet’s total websites. Seventy-two percent of males and 28 percent of females visit these websites regularly. No doubt about it, pornography is an expensive business. It costs billions of dollars to produce and to view. And it costs a countless number of relationships, families, and lives.

            Pornography isn’t a brand new phenomenon, but the media has certainly increased expansion and accessibility of this perverse drug. It can now be found right on your smart phone-and your child’s smart phone. In a world where children are so media savvy, and media is so saturated with pornography, parents need to take precaution. Children, particularly boys who are at risk of anti-social behavior, are more likely to engage in pornography via the media. It is essential for parents to understand what they are up against-and also what their children are facing every single day.

            The effects of pornography are not something we can afford to ignore. Many individuals claim that engaging in pornography is healthy, liberating, appropriate, normal. Perhaps it’s just “boys being boys.”

            Science strongly suggests otherwise.

            Pornography physically damages and rewires neuro-pathways in the human brain, just like illicit drugs. A few of the startling psychological consequences of pornography include: desensitization, habituation, and eventually boredom. As users move from “soft-core” pornography to more perverse forms, desensitization for people increases as victims become objects to be used at the user’s disposal.           

            For instance, numerous married men who view pornography report becoming bored with their wives in regards to sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual intimacy. Many pornography users suffer from erectile dysfunction and are unable to have sex with a “real” woman because of the numbing effects that pornography has on the brain. Like any drug, the first high will never return, and many will spend a lifetime trying to feed their gratification through more disturbing forms of pornography, which is often linked to sex crimes and domestic violence.

            As if that’s not frightening enough, a study conducted back in 1995 showed that pornography even has the capability to not only influence individuals’ sexual behaviors, but to promote sexually violent behaviors. Individuals who are exposed to pornography are more likely to perceive rape and other sex crimes as acceptable. Notice this shocking apathy occurs in individuals who are exposed to pornography, and not just those actually engaging in it.

            The question is, in the society that we live, who hasn’t been exposed to it? Imagine the consequences on one’s brain who is repeatedly choosing to view pornographic material over and over.

            The effects pornography has on the brain and on relationships have been studied for awhile now. So what has been done about it? And what are we going to do about it?

            In the United States, not much has been done by the government regarding pornography. However, the use of child pornography in any form (i.e. distribution, viewing, selling children, etc.) is illegal. While this is a way to protect children from harm once the act has taken place-it does not prevent children from harm. Thus, this measure really addresses symptoms of a much bigger problem: a lack of education about sex and pornography. This type of education should particularly be implemented among youth.

            While school assemblies and advocacy groups are beginning to educate individuals and fight pornography head on, the most effective way to reduce consumption of pornography is for adults to teach sex and media education in the home. In fact, the likelihood of pornography exposure turning into pornography consumption significantly drops when positive standards regarding women, relationships, and sex are demonstrated in family life.

            What do you say we take that seriously?

            Let’s stop being okay with pornography! Let’s offer support and encouragement to those overcoming pornography addictions. We need to educate those who may one day find themselves in pornography’s grasp. We need to teach our children, and ourselves, what pornography really does. Prevention is better than intervention.

            Knowledge truly is power. Remember, the first step to combat pornography begins in our homes. Don’t take this drug lightly-it is a force to be reckoned with. Prevent it. Reduce it. Explain it. Understand it. Discuss it over the dinner table. Spread the word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill the Love Bank with Play

In Child Development, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, The Family, Values on August 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

children on trampoline

by Nathalie Bowman

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Dinner was over and my husband and I remained at the table, enjoying a conversation without the noise of the family. I glanced out the window and watched three of my sons and my daughter play on the trampoline. There was an intense battle going on in the imaginations of the children, and it was being played out before my eyes. I cringed as I watched fists being thrust at each other, boys being tackled and thrown down, and our little 4 year old girl doing somersaults and jumping all around them, her blond hair sticking straight out with static. She was a little princess helping the warriors save the castle. They were having a grand time releasing pent up energy from sitting in church earlier that day, and I was just waiting for the fight to get real and someone to get hurt (which didn’t happen).

As I watched my children pretend and play, I began to enjoy the scene before my eyes. Their world was perfect in that moment. Tummies were full, the sun was shining, and there were siblings to play with. I allowed their joy to infuse my heart, and relished being their mother. This was definitely one of those rewarding paybacks for me. Watching my children have so much fun together with their imaginations going wild was an absolute delight.

Family life can take its toll with stress, busyness and worry. Taking care of children is a very demanding full time job. We get lost in the stress and the desires we have for everything to be perfect. It can get very frustrating. In spite of all the stress that comes with parenthood, there are many delightful moments.

Take the time to observe and enjoy the random delightful moments that are created in your home. Share with your children how much you enjoyed watching them and have them tell you the story of their play. Jump in and play with them – and allow them to tell you what they want you to do. This will provide a wonderful opportunity to connect and will put huge deposits in your child’s love bank (and in yours).

Being a child can be absolutely delightful. Encourage your children to free play and pretend. Take more time off electronics and play together. Allow the play time to be a stress release for you and your children as you either play with them, or enjoy watching them play. Either way, your children will know you are interested in them, and you will fill the love bank with fun family memories. Take some time to play today!

 

outdoor32012Nathalie Bowman is a mother of eight children, and is passionate about helping families heal their hearts and homes so they can live happily ever after.

 

More than two Parents: Not so New and Not so Enlightened

In Abstinence, Child Development, Courts, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Government, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Values on July 16, 2014 at 9:25 am

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Diane Robertson

In 2013 California made it legally possible for children to have more than two parents. More states will surely follow suit. The diversity-in-family-structure-loving-liberals think this is enlightened. They’re working hard to bring society out of the dark ages of Married mother and father families into the “Brave New World” of many parents.

Except this idea isn’t so brave and isn’t so new. Some children have already had a similar experience through divorce and they are speaking out. The Ruth Institute is collecting stories from children of divorce. As it turns out divorced couples, remarried couples, step families, broken families, and shared custody don’t actually feel so enlightened to the children who grew up in these situations.

One such personal story, told by Jennifer Johnson, illustrates what it actually feels like growing up with 5 parents. Johnson’s parents divorced when she was about three. Her mother remarried once and her father remarried twice. Johnson explains what her life was like growing up with five parents:

“it means going back and forth between all those households on a regular basis, never having a single place to call home during your most tender and vulnerable years. It means having divided Christmases, other holidays, and birthdays–you spend one with one parent, and another with the other parent, never spending a single holiday or birthday with both parents. Imagine having each of your parents completely ignore the other half of you, the other half of your family, as if it did not even exist. Meanwhile, imagine each parent pouring their energy into their new families and creating a unified home for their new children. These experiences give you the definite impression of being something leftover, something not quite part of them. You live like that on a daily basis for 18+ years.”

So why would so many adults push for this type of family brokenness and even make it possible for many adults to have legal control over a child? It’s called selfishness. Adults want this so they can have children and have sex with whoever they please and at whatever stage of life they wish. They want this sort of life legal so their partner can make medical and educational decisions for their children. They want convenience for themselves, but not their children.

Johnson writes about a woman, Masha Gessen, a prominent LGBT activist, who grew up with a married mother and father and speaks frankly about how her children have 5 parents. Gessen bemoans the fact that there, as yet, isn’t a way for her children to have all of their parents legally:

“I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally… I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.”

Johnson’s replies to Gessen simply calling out the truth of the matter:

“If what I had is so great, then why don’t they want it as children? Here’s my conclusion: they want it as adults but not as children. They want the benefits of the socially conservative family structure when they are children. But as adults, they want sexual freedom, or at least they want to appear ‘open minded’ and ‘tolerant’ about others sexual choices, even at the expense of children, even though they themselves would never want to live under what they advocate. It’s a bizarre sort of a ‘win-win’ for them, I guess.”

Children don’t need more than two legal parents. Society doesn’t need diversity in family structure. All children and all of society needs responsible adults who marry before having children, work daily on a loving relationship and together raise their children in stable, happy homes. It can be done and would be the source of a truly “enlightened” society!

Simple Steps

In Child Development, Elder Care, Families, father, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Uncategorized, Values on July 11, 2014 at 9:52 am

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by Joseph Moore

One night after arriving home from a school dance, I found my parents watching old movies together on the couch. As soon as they heard me come through the door, they moved to the kitchen to listen to my stories and adventures of the night. They listened intently, laughing at my jokes, asking questions, and even sharing advice. They were genuinely interested in my life. They smiled warmly at me. I felt their sincerity and deep care. After talking for almost an hour, I said goodnight, gave them a hug and kiss, and moved on to my room to change clothes.

As I came back upstairs to the kitchen for some late night ice cream, I looked over at the other set of stairs to see my sweet parents. My mother had undergone thyroid surgery a few weeks earlier, and my father had recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Needless to say, they were both in quite a bit of pain as they quietly limped over to the stairs to go up to bed. My parents, who had just spent almost an hour listening to their teenage son’s weekend account, began the slow uphill climb to take care of their own need for a good night’s sleep. Linked arm in arm, they made their way slowly, step by step, occasionally giggling at their situation, giving each other a loving smile. Patiently they continued on. They lifted one another up every step, one foot in front of the other. Even in their pain and weakness, they found strength in each other’s arms, eventually meeting their destination at the top of the stairs.

What an impression that scene left upon my young heart and mind. This daily example of unselfishness conveyed to me a greater understanding of how simple acts and loving words between fathers and mothers can shape the emotional health and development of their children. I love my parents for what they have taught me and even more for what they have shown me through simple daily acts.

 

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Joseph Moore’s story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 24. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.

 

A Careful Watch

In Child Development, Families, father, Parental Rights, Parenting, The Family, Values on June 20, 2014 at 11:03 am

seeing_careful_watchHolly King

Mom and Dad loved getting to know our friends, and in the case of my sisters and me, they especially liked getting to know the boys we were spending time with. Oftentimes, my dad would offer summer jobs to our friends.

My dad owns a small business as an arborist. His crew of about ten men trims, skins, and prunes tall palm trees. And the workers who don’t climb and trim are left to the roughest work: clean up! Boys that accepted these jobs were expected to show up to work at 5:30 a.m. to beat the desert heat. They spent their work days hauling heavy, spiky branches into trailers and sweeping debris off sidewalks, streets, and lawns. Needless to say, my father-the-boss learned very quickly which of our male “friends” knew how to work. He never complained about anybody’s work ethic but silently noted those worthy of praise. He watched their interactions with co-workers, and he sustained conversations with them while traveling in work trucks. I felt very guarded and safe when friends gained my father’s approval because I knew he had really taken the time to know them.

I remember feeling especially protected during my junior year of high school. I was still a little young to date anybody steadily, and my parents recognized my need for help to steer away a rather persistent suitor. One Saturday morning during one of this young man’s many visits to our home, my dad walked into the kitchen where we were having a snack. He came in with his usual greasy work shirt, his hands dirty and roughly calloused from a life of labor, his face darkened from days under the beating sun. This hard-working father gently spoke to my friend, “Come with me, I need your help fixing a couple of our bikes.” This young man quickly got up to help my dad in the garage. I found out later that while fixing flat tires, my dad began the conversation with, “So, how long have you been interested in pursuing my daughter?” I don’t know where the conversation led from there, but I knew my dad was doing his best to watch over and protect me.

Questions (always asked with a wink and a smile) like “Do we have any bikes that need fixing?” or “Does Dad need to go out and fix some bikes?” became code in our home for “Do you feel uncomfortable? Would you like your father to have a talk with this young man?” My sisters and I know our dad is always ready and willing to guard us as a jeweler would guard his finest rubies. I’ll never forget the times where my rough, hardworking father showed such sensitivity and care in those situations. In these moments, I have felt the closest to my dad.

 

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Holly King’s story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 25. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

Fathers are Necessary and Honorable

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Child Development, date rape, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Schools, Single Mothers, The Family, Values, Violence on June 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

dad with sonDiane Robertson

Fatherhood is noble. Despite the fact that popular movies tend to make fathers out to be stupid or incapable, mothers, children, and society need fathers.

Mothers need fathers present. When I had my first baby it did not take me long to realize just how much my little daughter needed her father. Having my husband around parenting with me made me a better mother. He helped me to be more patient, wiser, and to look at the bigger picture. He played baby games with her that I wouldn’t dare do. This helped our little daughter’s development. Sure, I could be a good and strong mother without my husband, but I was better because of him.

Children need fathers present. Children who grow up in fatherless homes face many more challenges than children who grow up with both their mother and their father. The statistics plainly illustrate how much children need their fathers.

  • 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
  • 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
  • 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
  • 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]
  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]
  • 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]
  • Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999]

Society needs fathers. Clearly fathers make a big difference in the education and mental health of children. With 43% of children being born into single parent homes, government programs have stepped in to help. Yet, the statistics have not changed. Government cannot do what a father can.

As we approach Father’s Day, let us remember the importance of fathers. The men who marry, have children, and stick around to raise those children are honorable and deserve our praise. The world is a better place because of fathers.

A Meal that Mattered

In Child Development, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on June 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm

meal_matteredJenica Ostler

My mother worked hard to be an attentive and thoughtful woman. While I lived in her home I watched her make decisions time and time again based on what she had observed would make others happy. Many of these decisions were made in the kitchen. She enjoys cooking and showed her love to us through her time spent there. When someone was to be celebrated, their favorite meal was on the table. If someone was especially stressed or under pressure, mealtime was tailored to his or her needs. If someone was knowingly going to be away for dinner, she would make their least favorite meal while they were gone so they didn’t have to eat it and the rest of us could enjoy it! She was able to take into consideration so many preferences because she paid close attention, she cared about others’ likes and dislikes, and she chose to remember those little details.

Not every effort of hers went noticed. Sometimes we were unappreciative. Sometimes there were complaints, but Mother’s responses were always worth noting and remembering. I learned that blessing others takes unselfishness, flexibility, and a humble heart; and I learned this on one specific occasion not easily forgotten.

It was my junior year of high school. My younger sister and I were eager to welcome an Australian exchange student into our home. It was thrilling to have a new friend to learn from, to hear about her culture and music and perspective—and her lovely accent! An exchange student had stayed with us years earlier, so we knew what to expect, and we waited with anticipation.

She was a nice girl: sweet, appreciative, and very warmhearted. She fit well in our family, and we soaked up each day we had with her in the few short weeks. There were many things to learn from her, including her strict vegetarian diet. Though we had eaten many vegetarian meals before, her needs were different from our own. My mother had a way of making any vegetable taste delicious, even desirable, and so we enjoyed eating this way while she stayed with us.

On one of the first days after her arrival, we prepped and planned our evening with lovely activities to do together. We wanted her to feel comfortable and to feel at home. Being aware of her dietary needs and wanting her to feel warm and welcome, Mother spent all afternoon prepping and making a beautiful display of delicious vegetable dishes.

When it came time to gather for a blessing on the food, we heard a knock at the door. Our exchange student came running up the stairs with bag in hand, ready to be picked up for her exchange group’s dinner and orientation. My mother commented in surprise, “Oh! Are you off somewhere? I hoped you could enjoy this meal, made with love just for you!” Communication had been poor. She would not be joining us for dinner. It was the only time in my recollection that I had ever heard my mother draw any attention to herself or her efforts. It was so rare, in fact, that it drew my attention to it.

My mother quickly waved off her comment and laughed in a reassuring way as the student apologized sincerely. The student left for her evening obligations, and we proceeded with dinner—without a single complaint from mother about what had just happened. We continued with our normal dinnertime discussions, but my mind wasn’t much on our conversations at the table. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and frustrated for my mom, for the time and effort spent that was then under-appreciated! Then my mind wandered to how many times I had been the mindless one, who hadn’t recognized a need to apologize or to thank my parents for their time spent in my behalf. I realized then that the situations were numerous, and my mother had never once said a word about them.

I became more attentive to my mother’s example after that evening’s exchange. I noticed her and my father’s mindfulness and grew much more appreciative of their quiet acts of thoughtful service. Although my mother may have been embarrassed at the time of her comment, I’ll remain deeply appreciative that it was said. It wasn’t that comment spoken, but all of the comments left unspoken that taught me how to be truly aware and mindful of others around me.

 

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Jenica Ostler’s story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 25. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

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