Archive for the ‘father’ Category

Contention Begins With Me

In Child Development, Choice, Domestic Violence, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values, Violence on October 14, 2015 at 1:38 pm

blame gameby Rachel Mallory

Remember that sweet song most of us learned when we were young that stated “Kindness Begins with Me”? Well, through lots of personal experience, I’ve learned that the opposite is also true. Contention also begins with me, even when it doesn’t. Realizing this has brought me great inner peace. Hear me out on this one.

After raising four daughters and being somewhat of a control freak, I have come to learn the hard way, that  “my way or the highway” is not always a great strategy. I have come to realize that my reaction to disagreements is often the catalyst to love or hurt. “The mother sets the tone of the house” was never so true as at our house.

All of us experience contention and often on a daily basis. It’s part of life and it’s part of living in families and communities. No two of us are exactly the same so we react differently to contentious situations.  It’s been amazing to me to watch our four girls who were all raised in the same home with the same standards, ok… true confession … we were way more strict with the older ones….tired and more lax as the last two came along! Then as they got married and started their own families, dynamics seemed to change. And without my permission, darn it! Just kidding, but without honest communication, the unsolicited change in family dynamics and individual roles can be stressful for all.

Not only in families, but in the work place, church groups, friends, and even with total strangers in the parking lot and/or on the road. So knowing that “life happens” and that it’s inevitable, how can we, individually, control our reactions?
I’m sure you have noticed as well as I that we live in a society of victimhood. It’s never our fault- always someone else’s. Many are given a pass to blame others for their misfortunes and failures. Hardly anyone is held accountable. How does contention happen? “It takes two to Tango” comes to mind. (I’m full of trite phrases today!)

There cannot be contention unless two people choose to engage. Yes, I said choose. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about here. Think about the last time someone was contentious with you. Doesn’t matter the situation. Immediately walls go up, old hurts begin to surface, we all get defensive and attempt to shield ourselves from getting hurt. Playing the “poor me” or repeating the “yea but” games only add fuel. How about we try something else?  How about trying this? See if it works for you.

Next time you’re absolutely certain that you’re right and the other person is an insensitive, blathering, blah, blah, blah, take a piece of paper and write your thoughts down. “This person makes me so mad because….” Don’t sugarcoat it and be as mean as you can. Even include the “she/he definitely should/shouldn’t…”
Then ask yourself if what you’ve written is absolutely true or not. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll often come to the conclusion that much of your angst is merely a story you’ve concocted in your head. We play the “what if” game masterfully until we work ourselves into a frenzy.

For example, my husband travels periodically and I’m home alone which I really don’t mind. I can stay up and sew or read or whatever as late as I want. One night when he was away, I watched a stupid scary movie. The rest of the night I was nearly paralyzed with fear that an ax murderer would break in and hack me into small pieces. What changed from last night to tonight?? My thoughts! That’s it! Or… Someone texts me and says one word only. “Sure.”  What does that mean?? I can’t quite decipher. I begin to think, “she’s mad at me” or “she’s trying to ignore me” “they’re kicking me out of the group and this is her way of letting me down easy.” See how our minds go crazy when we’re in a contentious state?

I’m not a professional counselor or psychoanalyst but what if we just continually chose to “not sweat the small stuff.” Choose to chill in a sense. Look at others as people rather than objects and treat them with kindness instead of malice. The few times I’ve done this, it’s made my life happier, and way less complicated. Me and my thoughts are the only things I have total control over.

Please do not think I am diminishing the devastating effects of physical and mental abuse. Those can be life-threatening situations that definitely need professional help. But even in those terrible seemingly unscalable situations we can somewhat control our reactions. Difficult? Yes, but if it could bring you some peace, wouldn’t it be worth it? The goal here is not to change the adversary, but to calm you’re heart and mind.

Remember, contention can only fester if both parties participate. Choose not to. Be sincerely kind and forgiving. Don’t give in to your crazy thoughts. Be kind to you for a change.

“Because I Was Raised That Way”

In Child Development, Choice, Domestic Violence, Families, father, Gender Identity, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Values, Violence on October 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

happy-family-By Deborah Wene

Have you ever looked at a couple and wanted to be them because they seem to have the perfect marriage? Many teens experience this. Growing up, I had this perfect marriage in mind and hoped that I would someday find the right person to live the dream with.

What exactly makes a perfect marriage? To me, a marriage is perfect when couples share equal partnership in all they do. Equal partnership in marriage affects every other aspects of that marriage including children.

First, let’s look at some facts about the effect of equal partnership in marriage:

  • 81% of equalitarian (egalitarian) couples were happily married, while 82% of couples where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional (hierarchical) were mainly unhappy
  • In relation to intimacy 98% of happy couples feel very close to each other, while only 27% of unhappy couples felt the same.
  • The inability to share leadership equally (couple inflexibility) was the top stumbling block to a happy marriage.
  • In traditional marriages, wives had been beaten at “a rate of more than 300 percent higher than for egalitarian marriages.
  • Violence is more likely to occur in homes where the husband has all the power and makes all the decisions than in home where spouses share decision making.Children who grew up in a traditional (hierarchical) marriage are most likely to grow up and ended up like their parents.
  • Children who grew up in a traditional (hierarchical) marriage are more likely to grow up and expect marriages like their parents.

My goal is to focus on the last bullet point on how marriage affects children. I grew up in a home and culture where the father would make all the decisions and the mother would go with whatever the father thought was good for the family. Rarely have I ever see my mom trying to discuss an idea or share her thoughts on something with my dad.  I started to accept their example as what marriage should be like. When people told me otherwise, I tried to defend my belief on marriage by saying, “because I was raised that way.”…because that’s how I saw my father treating my mother”… “because that’s how it is in my culture.”

But is that the right way to have a perfect marriage? Should husbands be the decision makers while the wives just go with the flow? How are boys affected when they see their fathers making the choices, beating, and abusing their mother because he’s in control? Won’t they emulate such characteristics from their fathers? How about girls, sitting there and watching their mother being vulnerable and pretending to be happy and getting beaten by their fathers, will they ever trust in a happy marriage?

Marriage is and should be a happy union between two people who love and respect each other so much they share everything, equally. Marriage does play a big role on not only the couple but also their children. Children mirror how their parents love each other and they are more likely to use the same techniques they see their parents use. If you love your children, treat your spouse in a way that will positively affect your children. They and generations to follow will bless you for your example.

Deborah Wene

Deborah Wene, an intern from BYUI shares life experiences that have impacted her attitudes and beliefs.  She is dedicated to learning how families develop loving and devoted relationships.

The Need for Parental Rights

In Child Abuse, Child Development, Choice, Constitution, Courts, Democracy, Diane Robertson, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Government, Grassroots, Health Care, Parental Rights, Parenting, Schools, Sex Education, Sexual Orientation, Sovereignty, Supreme Court, The Family, Values on September 23, 2015 at 7:03 am

parental rightsBy Diane Robertson

Parental rights in the United States are under attack. Among imposing state and city laws, to federal regulations, to over-zealous social workers, many parents are finding that their right to educate, discipline, teach independence, and decide what is best for their children’s health and medical care is being infringed upon. Some of these rights include:

The Right to Opt Out

Some parents do not approve of everything that is being taught to their children at school and would like the opportunity to both know what is being taught and to opt their children out of certain lessons or programs at school. Some parents are finding that when they inquire at the school about objectionable curriculum, the school personel become quite defensive. The most severe case occurred in Massachusetts when a family wanted to opt their kindergarten son out of lessons on homosexuality. The school had the father arrested, and in the end, the first circuit court of the United States ruled that the state has an interest in teaching children about homosexuality when it is part of the state law and parents cannot opt their children out of those lessons. The Supreme Court did not take the case allowing the first circuit ruling to stand.

The Right to school choice

Some parents home school, some send their kids to private schools, some charter schools, and other parents prefer the regular public schools. If there wasn’t a need for all of these choices they would not exist. But some in authority and public office would do away with school choice. This greatly hampers parents’ ability to educate their children according to their individual needs. School choice should be a fundamental right and certainly helps children get the best education for them. School choice suits parents’ needs as well. With school choice parents can teach their kids their liberal or conservative values without infringing on the rights of their neighbors.

Right to Allow Children to be Independent

It has not gone unnoticed throughout the nation how very few children are walking to school or playing in their yards or at the parks. Some parents would like their children to learn responsibility earlier than other parents would choose. They would like their kids to be able to walk to school or to the parks or to wait at the bus stop without a parent nearby. This is not unusual and has been the case for all generations except the current one. However, some laws are trying to prevent the independence of children and the choice of parents. Laws and ordinances should recognize that parents know and understand their children better than anyone else and should be afforded the opportunity to teach their children according to their children’s abilities rather than restraining the freedom of parents and children.

Right to Medical Decisions

One frightening thing that is happening throughout the nation is parents losing custody of their children over differences of opinions regarding medical care. If a parent takes a child to the wrong doctor, they risk losing that child. This risk is ridiculous. Parents should not have to fear losing their children simply by taking them to a doctor. This is obviously not in the best interest of the health of the nation when parents fear medical professionals.

Other issues have involved school programs that allow young teen girls to get invasive medical devices such as IUD birth control without parental consent, yet the same children are considered too immature to drive without a parent, attend school without parental consent, pay medical bills, hold down a job, and in some cases even babysit or walk to school without a parent. It just doesn’t make sense.

What Can Be Done

An organization called parentalrights.org is pushing to add a parental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They have a petition they are asking people to sign to let lawmakers know that parents want to have their rights to care for their children protected under the Constitution.

This can be done at the state level, but a federal constitutional amendment is the safest route for parents. By amending the Constitution parental rights would be protected from local lawmakers, state lawmakers, federal lawmakers and all of the court systems. The Supreme Court would then be mandated to protect the rights of parents with the exception of abuse above and beyond all other interests.

Please take the time to sign the petition to help protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit.


Born or Unborn – They Matter Too

In Abortion, adoption, Child Development, Choice, father, Freedom, Health Care, Human Rights, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, Values on September 21, 2015 at 9:02 pm

By: Deborah Wene

pregnant African woman I was born in a very small town, in a small country with not many resources to help pregnant women. Many women gave birth along the road, on their way to the field or markets, most of which ended up dying because of lack of care. When my mother was pregnant with me, she suffered many sicknesses. Her health was in jeopardy. My parents didn’t have any mother to take care of my mom while she went through the pregnancy. Doctors advised her that for the sake of her own health, it is better for her to abort the baby. My parents thought of it and even considered it, but my mother realized that the person inside of her is a human too, and she decided to go on with the pregnancy. I was born very ill, at home with no one to help. My parents sold everything they had to take care of me the best they could until they can find someone to take over the responsibility. They chose adoption over abortion, and because of their decision, I am the person I am today.

Everyone deserves to live. We all do! We all deserve the chance to experience the beauty of life, and not having someone to take that away from us just because they have the power to. I often wonder if these aborted infants could talk, what would they say? “Mom, dad, why are you doing this to me? Don’t you love me?” I often wonder how a woman can make the choice of conceiving and then knowing that she’s carrying a life inside of her, go about getting rid of it just because she can. Yes, I understand not everyone’s case is the same. There are few exceptions to these rules, but still, a consideration is a must.

I may not be famous just because my mother decided to keep me, but I am a human being, I can breathe, I can do things with my body, therefore I matter! I do know what it feels like to live. I do know what it feels like to have a life that is mine. I do know what it feels like to make my own choices with the knowledge that those choices will have their own consequences. I do know because I matter, I do know because my mother chose to give the gift of life, and I do know because I know the beauty of living and the chances and opportunities I will have in blessing and giving someone that gift, too! Every life matters, whether born or unborn. Give them the choice to experience what you are experiencing now. Give them the chance to bless lives, including yours.

Freedom to be a Family

In Child Development, Democracy, Education, Families, father, Freedom, Government, Human Rights, Parenting, UN, Values, Violence on September 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

Burundi refugees 2by Ally Fife


The ideal home is one in which we feel comfort when we enter; where we can let go of the problems of our day and feel safe and loved. Such is not the case for the 90,000 Burundi refugees who have left their homes in terror, sometimes walking for a month with little food or water, to reach camps in places like Rwanda and Tanzania. Having come from places where traumatizing events is the norm, they often bring with them haunting memories of sexual violence, torture, political persecution, forced child soldiering, and genocide.

The story of Mariama Kwizera began 7 years ago when she came home at the age of 9 to find both her parents murdered by the militia. She took her 2 younger siblings and went to live in an uncle’s home, but he also died several years later. At the young age of 14 she found herself responsible for her siblings, with no home, food, or job. To make matters worse, political violence was worsening.

“We felt threatened,” she says. “The security situation in our country was getting worse every day. We had no parents and nobody to protect us… People were being killed or beaten up – that’s the reason why we decided to leave.”

A good decision.

On April 26th, a decision made by the ruling CNDD­FDD party to back President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for the upcoming elections lead to more violent protesting and opposition. The decision was considered unconstitutional because President Nkurunziza has already served 2 five year terms, which is the limit according to the law. But backers of the president say his first term of office doesn’t count because he was picked by parliament, and not a popular vote.

Whatever the reason behind the turmoil, families are broken up, and the real sufferers are the children. According to UNICEF Tanzania Representative Dr. Jama Gulaid, this uprooting is largely a crisis facing children. “Eighty ­three per cent of the population on the move that has been registered in Tanzania are children…We have at least 1,200 children who have been screened here at the [Kigoma] stadium, who are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.” In other words, alone and unprotected.

The United Nations says the first of five major issues for children in refugee camps is separation of children from their families. In the best interest of the child, it is important to document the separation and attempt to reunite the child with his/her family, if they are alive. “A strong family support network is essential to the proper growth and development of children in general, but especially those living in refugee camps.”

With the upheaval children have already been through, being with their family can be the first step to feeling safe enough to begin the healing process. Safety and protection are not guaranteed in these camps. Typically they are run by humanitarian efforts, who rely on donations and volunteers. They are overcrowded and finding food and water is still a challenge. Sexual and physical violence plague the weak and the helpless.

But there is still hope.

Research from the APA Task Force on the Psychosocial Effects of War on Children and Families Who Are Refugees, indicate remarkable resilience in these families as they cope with the mental and physical stresses they have endured. Besides providing protection to their children, parents model the ability to adapt, including learning a new culture, providing for their families, and looking out for educational opportunities sometimes provided by the camps.

Hubwimana Inosenti did not arrive at Kigoma refugee camp until five days after his wife, Ndaishimiye, and their four children. He had spent one month on the road, arriving sick, exhausted, and malnourished. But being together was enough for them. Though they had previously spent 4 years in the Tabiri Refugee camp, returning home to Burundi for only 2 years before being forced out again, they still dream of returning. Like many families throughout the world, they have ambitions for themselves and their children. They aspire to become farmers of beans and maize. Through it all, they have not lost their spirit or hope.

A land of freedom gives us the space we need to grow as families. For so many throughout the world, there is no freedom, only survival. Those of us who are lucky enough to have such freedoms must take care that we don’t lose them. In the United States, our freedom to be a family has been eroding slowly, and therefore, mostly undetected. Take just a moment today to think about what you can do to support the cause of families around the world, and send a prayer out for our friends in Africa.

Rethinking the Sexual Revolution

In Abstinence, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Feminism, Freedom, Marriage, Population Control, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values on September 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

couple in love 5by Tashica Jacobson

The term, sexual revolution, can bring about many different positions, feelings, and arguments, but what can readily be agreed upon is that it has drastically changed society. With any dramatic change of norms it is easy for individuals to get swept away in the changing tides rather than being intentional about life choices.

Because of these changes we now view sex and its role vastly different than how our grandparents viewed it. The sexual revolution started in the 1960’s and left the world forever changed. Birth control and the increased focus on individualism were some of the major catalysts. None of these are inherently wrong, but they did have many unforeseen effects on the family. All of these things are still affecting families today, and each of us has the opportunity to be intentional about how we let them affect our decisions and our family life.

The birth control pill was first introduced in the 1960’s and was soon followed by other popular means of contraceptives. While this was beneficial for many and allowed parents to plan their children, it also drastically changed the way that sex is viewed. No longer were sex, marriage, and children viewed as linked together. It separated sexual intimacy from child bearing and families, and as such cohabitation and divorce began to rise.

When the birth control was first made widely public a reader’s digest article read” Everyone knows what The Pill is. It is a small object — yet its potential effect upon our society may be even more devastating than the nuclear bomb”(PBS, 2001). And while dramatic, this statement hits to the point that this small, seemingly helpful pill could have wider effects than what was originally thought.

The rise in individualism also changed the way that families were perceived. In Marriage-Go Round Andrew Cherlin looks at this new idea of an individualized marriage. When describing this concept he states: “It is not incompatible with lifelong marriage, but it requires a new kind of marriage in which spouses are free to grow and change and in which each feels personally fulfilled. Such marriages are harder to keep together, because what matters is not merely the things they jointly produce—well-adjusted children, nice homes—but also each person’s own happiness” (p. 90) This growing individualism also leads spouses to divorce when their own happiness is not being met, leading to more family break ups.

The effects of the sexual revolution have become widespread and well known. Cohabitation, single mothers and fathers, promiscuity, divorce, and sex at younger ages all began to rise. 48% of all first births in the US are now born outside of marriage, and 49% of young adult females (age 20-24) cohabit. (Hymowitz, 2013)

So once again while these things have changed the world we do not blindly need to follow the trends they are setting. Birth control, helpful for fathers and mothers as they plan their families, also has the negative effect of pre-marital relationships and sexual promiscuity. Individual happiness and satisfaction of life while essential, is now taking on a life of its own and leading many to throw away good things. However these new societal trends can be slowed and even reversed as individuals make conscious decisions about what they mean to them and make intentional choices in regards to their families.

Works Cited

Cherlin, A. J., The Marriage-Go Round. 2009.

Hymowitz, K., Carroll, J.S., Wilcox, W. B., Kaye, K., Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America. (2013).

PBS. People & Events: The Pill and the Sexual Revolution. 2001

Make Sure Your Marriage gets the Maintenance it Deserves

In Choice, Divorce, Education, Families, father, Marriage, Values on September 15, 2015 at 6:11 pm

MacGyverBy Jessica Westfall

MacGyver was an 80s tv show that my parents introduced me to my Freshman year of high school. MacGyver was a jack-of-all trades, he could find a solution to any problem and was an all around helpful guy. I was impressed, and sometimes skeptical, of the daring escapes he made with common, and sometimes all-too-convient, everyday items. But one theme held true throughout the show, MacGyver saw use where others didn’t. More importantly, he used that knowledge and got out of sticky situations. Our lives are riddled with helpful metaphorical gum wrappers and paper clips, but it does take some training to recognize their usefulness. While MacGyver was heralded as an man who’s brain just worked differently, we all have the ability to improve our lives with a little guidance.

A huge part of every human life is social interaction, especially families. Anyone in a family will admit there are moments of friction, times when the right solution is not yet apparent. Like the many friends MacGyver met along the way, we have all the same tools at our disposal, but like MacGyver, only some know how to effectively use them. We all have ways of communicating, verbally and nonverbally. We all have choice in how we react and what we say. The MacGyver’s of the family world seem to have it all together, no situation is too sticky or harrowing to be resolved.
Those that seem to have a gift may indeed have a gift, the gift of knowledge. Some can learn this knowledge through personal experience, and many do. But a lot of the time it’s easier and more pleasant to learn from another’s experience. My mother and father attended a marriage seminar a few years ago and Mom remarked after that she knew first hand  what the presenter was teaching because they (my parents) had figured it out through trial and error. She joked that it would have been a lot easier to figure it out if they’d had the class 20 year earlier. What if your 20 years ago is now?

I have incredible respect for those that regularly service their vehicles. Buying a car from someone like that is absolutely wonderful (I’m pretty sure MacGyver kept his vehicle in top condition). Yet many of us, including me, do not take the time to do more than regular oil changes. Why not? Well, it’s hard, it seems like a lot of work for something that might not be needed, life is busy. Yet we all know cars break down, especially when neglected. We don’t regret our neglect until it’s too late and the car is broken down. That’s when the real inconvenience of a big repair happens. But those repairs can be costly, sometimes the vehicle isn’t even salvageable. When that happens the time and energy and cost of keeping up with the car doesn’t seem so steep anymore. Does that sound familiar?  It should, because many people have the same attitudes about marriage and family. There is no need to fix something that isn’t broken, in fact it’s often seen as embarrassing to seek guidance or the sign of a defective relationship. Many great cars stop working because of neglect, and so do many marriage and family relations.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to gain knowledge that improves a marriage. It doesn’t mean that a parent is subpar when they seek parenting guidance. I take it as a sign of great parental wisdom to seek out the best ways to raise children. The same can be said for couples. There is so much information about marriage and families. Other people, like researchers, scientists, therapists, and those like my parents that learned through trial and error, have discovered answers and want to share them. So read a parenting book, attend a  marriage seminar, research healthy communication and boundaries on the internet. It’s all out there and readily accessible for little to no cost. The real tragedy would be to ignore the incredible knowledge out there. MacGyver would not have been as exciting without his extra know-how.

Giving Adult Children Money: Helping, Hindering, or Hurting?

In Child Development, Choice, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parental Rights, Parenting, The Family, Values on August 27, 2015 at 9:41 am

money 3by Rebecca Mallory

When is it a good idea to lend adult children money? As young marrieds, we never had money. There was a time when we had three small kids and were working four jobs between us. We borrowed $5,000 from my husband’s parents for a down payment on a house and eventually paid it back. But we never even thought about borrowing another dime from parents or family. Let me just say up front, that I am no expert on this subject. All I know is what I’ve experienced and heard from close family members, and friends. There are countless books and lectures dedicated to this sticky little family subject that might give you much better advice on the subject of money and adult children. However, you may find these examples helpful.

When my husband and I got married we were beyond dirt poor. Though we both had college degrees, we had no real job and scraped by. I was working part time for an orthodontist, and he was working at Wendy’s. Several months later we wanted to surprise his parents and go to their home in San Diego for Thanksgiving but Dave couldn’t get off work. We went anyway. By now I was 6 months pregnant. When we got back home Dave had been fired. Duh… Really? What did you think would happen? I’m sure his parents were indeed “surprised” to realize how irresponsible their kids were to make such a dumb move. He eventually got another job which turned out to be a blessing and the beginning of his 33+ year career. Still, it was a dumb move.

Fast forward to today where we’ve learned some difficult life lessons but are in a much better financial position.  So a few years ago, we decided that any extra money we had would be used to help our kids rather than having fancy cars, travel, etc. We’ve “helped” all four of them to some extent with interesting results. If we could rewind, we probably would not have made that choice. It’s been more stressful than we would ever have guessed. It’s a subject that I have discussed with many “empty nesters” recently. How do you handle money with your adult children? Especially married children?  Their answers have been telling. I’ll relate a few cases to you and let you make up your own mind. Perhaps you have your own story?

Couple #1: “We have three married daughters and one son with families of their own. I don’t know about your family, but sometimes we don’t think alike! We do things differently and have different expectations. Nothing is so glaring as when it comes to money. Lending our kids money has put a strain on our relationship because we both “assumed” that we had the same intent and goals. Not so! We don’t know if we’ll ever see that money again which also puts a strain on our marriage. We just thought our kids would respect us enough to see that we need it back as soon as possible. They think we’re thoughtless and stingy. It really hurts.”

Couple #2: “We offered to co-sign on a house for our kids. It was right after the big foreclosure fiasco and knew that they wouldn’t be able to qualify for a loan without us. Why did we feel it our job to “fix” their problem? If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. We would never have thought to go to our parents to help us with a house that we couldn’t afford on our own! They were grateful but seemed entitled to our money. They even alluded to the fact that they would have to live with us if we didn’t help them. We want them to have independence! Did we make the right move or are we just enabling them?”

Couple #3:  “We borrowed money from our parents when we bought our first house. It took us ten years to pay it back but we did. It felt so good to pay off that debt. So we lent money to our newly married kids, assuming fully, that they would pay us back. First mistake. They were shocked that we would expect them to pay us back. It’s been eye-opening to realize the different expectations. Reactions have been varied. From a “you owe it to us” attitude or “you can afford it so just give it to us” to a real extreme of ” you need to give us X per month” with no explanation of where that money is going and no accountability. It was shocking and hurtful. They told us that they were hurt and don’t want to see us. We haven’t spoken to them for two months and they live a mile away from us.”

Couple #4:  “We’ve given our newlyweds so much money that we’ve lost count. They just expect it now. Have we helped or hindered their success? It’s caused problems with our relationship with them and between my wife and me. I’m truly sick of it but don’t know how to stop for fear that they won’t let us see the grandchildren if we rock the boat in any way. We feel totally trapped.”

Couple #5: “Our situation is easy. We just don’t have it. Our kids have had to plain figure it out for themselves. Some did, some didn’t. It’s not our problem though. We honestly couldn’t help them financially. We just told each of the kids that we’d pray for them and hope for the best. Guess what? The ones who truly wanted to figured it out did, because they had to. It was often painful to admit that we flat out couldn’t help them. But as heart-wrenching as that was at the time, to see the lessons they’ve learned through hard knocks and struggles, has been rewarding in and of itself. Why did we try to protect them from those life lessons?”

Each of these couples have learned hard lessons with married children. If you listen to
Dave Ramsey or any other financial guru, I’m sure that in most cases they suggest to refrain from lending money to your adult kids. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances but if you’re like me, YOURS are always the extenuating ones, right? It’s painful to watch your children struggle and suffer. Especially when they have little kids of their own. Sometimes I would like a “do over” with my kids which isn’t possible. But we’re all here learning together through the successes and the failures. Giving your children autonomy over their own lives seems to be a priceless way to handle sticky situations including money. There are no right or wrong answers. Only the ones that works for you. I would love to hear your take.

Speak Up for Family and Life

In Abortion, Abstinence, Child Development, Choice, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Marriage, Media, Parenting, Planned Parenthood, Prostitution, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Freedom, Technology, The Family, Values on August 26, 2015 at 8:47 am

Ashley Madisonby Diane Robertson

There’s this infamous company in Canada, Ashley Madison, which hosts a purportedly secret online dating service for people who are married or in a committed relationship. The company’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Customers pay Ashley Madison to help them have extra marital affairs and one night stands.

On July 15th of this year hackers stole the company’s “secret” customer data—including email addresses, names, home addresses, sexual fantasies and credit card information. At the time, Hackers said they would release the information to the public if Ashley Madison did not permanently shut down. On July 22nd, the company released just the first names of the customers. When the company did not comply with the demands of the hackers, they released all of the information on Aug 18th.

The fall out has been huge with ordinary people to celebrities such as Josh Duggar being outed for cheating on their spouses.

The Toronto police department even reported that two people committed suicide because they were outed by the hackers. The Toronto police department blamed the hackers stating this would “not be tolerated”.

Normally, I agree that hacking is wrong. It’s typically used to gain access to personal information for financial gains. I feel like this situation is different. I agree with the hackers that the company is abominable. They make money while facilitating the breakup of marriages and families. I think justice has been served.

Most people are standing by the fact that hacking is illegal, and that what these hackers did was wrong because they have ruined millions of lives. I agree that hacking is illegal and should be. But I do not believe the hackers are responsible for ruining the lives of the adulterers. Rather, those committing adultery are responsible for ruining their own lives. They made conscious choices to do something they were very aware would harm their spouse, their children, and ultimately themselves.

I am going to speak as a Christian in an appeal to other Christians. I believe that as Christians it is imperative for us to recognize what is wrong and damaging to families and to society and call it out. We need to make judgments so that we can understand what is good and what is bad. Sadly, as a society we have been bullied into a place where we won’t say something is right or wrong because it might hurt someone’s feelings. We cower at the being called names, and our unwillingness to face the criticism of those calling us judgmental or bigoted or hateful has led to a whole host of societal ills.

Ashley Madison would not exist if there weren’t enough corrupt people willing to pay for it. Companies can only exist if there is enough of a market to be profitable. Along the same lines, Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics wouldn’t exist if there weren’t so many mothers and fathers willing to sacrifice the very life of their children for the sake of lust and convenience.

I look around me and see that as a society we have given our compassion to the people selfishly destroying life and family instead of those who have had their lives and families destroyed. The people who need our compassion are the husbands and wives whose marriages have been shattered by infidelity, the sons and daughters who are left without a mother or a father because of the resulting divorce, and the babies that never breathed because their parents did not want them.

Just 60 years ago, compassion was given to the real victims and as a result more people considered the consequences before breaking apart their families or taking the lives of their unborn children. The pressure to live a chaste life meant that life and family were cherished. Now, individual choice is cherished, and life and family are discarded.

To Christians, I say, make a choice. Is what we say and how we judge saving lives and strengthening families, or is it promoting (quietly or openly) the destruction of life and the breakdown of families? Those who hacked into the Ashley Madison website, may have committed a crime, but they also made an important statement about marriage and family. They stood up for love and fidelity. We can to, and we don’t even need to break the law to do so. We just need to speak.

Take the Gender Out of Toys, Not Out of People

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Gender, Gender Identity, Homosexuality, Parenting, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Values on August 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

IMG_0103by Annalise Jarman

Surprised as many of you might be, I actually think Target’s move to take gender labels out of their toy aisles is positive news. Of course gender is important. Of course the current push to live in denial about gender differences is harmful to individuals as well as families. Rigid gender stereotypes, however, can also be quite harmful.

Gender is more of a book than a box. Understanding gender helps us greatly to understand ourselves. It helps me understand why I have to deal with so many emotional roller coasters — horror-mones, as I sometimes call them. It also helps me understand why, try as I may, I still can’t run as fast as so many boys. Even on my high school cross-country team, as one of the top female runners, I was only as fast as some of the slower Junior Varsity boys.

Gender isn’t a box, though, and treating it like an exact box can also be confusing. Traditional gender lines certainly haven’t been successful at telling me everything about myself. For example, I’m good at spatial reasoning, and I struggle with multi-tasking. I enjoy rock climbing and woodworking. Until I had a baby, I never cried during movies. Not even when Simba’s dad died in The Lion King. All my friends cried at that part. I felt depressed, for about three days, but never cried. At the same time, I love a good pedicure and working on crafts.

Luckily I grew up in a family where this was all ok. I didn’t have to be a girly-girl, but could be if I wanted to be. Whatever my interests, I was still a girl and I was still ok. My parents helped me see this as they kept to the general gender roles at home but were not too rigid regarding what was acceptable for boys to do and what was ok for girls. My mom was a mom in every sense of the word. We were lucky enough to have her at home. She cared for and nurtured the family. My dad was the bread-winner and was good at teaching us discipline. But he also helped a lot with the laundry and the dishes. My mom also mowed the lawn and built some furniture for our home.

Katie Goldman and Layla Murphy (the Star Wars girls) are also lucky to have supportive families who aren’t too fearful about crossing a few gender lines. If you have seen their pictures, you know they are adorable girls, both of whom could easily pass as the next Princess Leia. Crossing the line over to the boys’ section for Star Wars action figures hasn’t made them boyish at all. They have the freedom to enjoy their hobbies and be girls too.

Those who grow up pressured to fit into a more rigid, boxy view of gender lines are not as lucky. People in these environments like to assume other things about those who cross gender lines, merely for the sake of their hobbies, that aren’t actually related to the hobbies at all. This is something I started to notice when I was about twelve, and I’ll be honest: I’ve always felt it was a little dysfunctional.

It was a conversation with my older brother’s girlfriend that struck me as odd. She was telling me about one of her guy-friends who told her that he liked interior design, cake decorating, and activities of that sort. She laughed as she said, “I told him, ‘Dude, you’re gay!’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not’, but I said, ‘Yes, you totally are! You have to be.’”

At the time I’m sure I just looked a bit confused. But as I grew older, I kept wondering, why does he have to be gay to like feminine pastimes? What if he isn’t gay, and wants to date women? Would he have to give up his hobbies for women to take him seriously in the dating scene?

No one has ever given me grief about my affinity for rock climbing, or wood working. When I took an Auto class in high school, people saw that as cool, not weird. No one told me I must be a lesbian. Can’t a man similarly like interior design and women? What do hobbies and sexual orientation have to do with each other anyways?

I thought about this even more as I learned that one of my husband’s friends decided he was gay. We had been on a double-date with him when we were first dating, and he wasn’t effeminate at all. Later, we watched him perform in a play, and then after we were engaged he said he’d be happy to make our wedding cake for us. We took him up on it, and he did a nice job. A guy who likes to participate in community plays and make wedding cakes. Cool. I was still surprised when he announced on Facebook that he was gay. Honestly, since his announcement he has seemed so miserable, despite all the love and support he gets from friends and family. It is possible that he just feels torn between his newly-chosen lifestyle and his family’s religion. I have to wonder, though, if maybe he’s not actually gay. Is it possible that he was pressured into believing he was gay because of his interests?

True, men who engage in feminine hobbies aren’t always explicitly labeled homosexual. But they usually get some sort of negative or uncomfortable feedback, similar to the teasing Katie Goldman and Layla Murphy got from their classmates before their families and communities stepped up to support them. With a chuckle here and there, a friend once told me about her college-roommate’s dad who liked to crochet. She described a strong and active farmer, a good husband and father, who liked to crochet to stay busy during the winter months. He even gave her one of the scarves he had crocheted. (The scarf was actually the conversation-starter. She still has it.) I’m sure he got plenty of looks when people found out he liked crocheting, because even as my friend told me about him and his interests, her underlying tone was, “It was weird, but whatever”.

The key to remember is that gender is biological. Biology determines our gender, our interests do not. Have some confidence in that. Taking gender labels out of toy aisles won’t confuse people about what they are. It will just make it more ok to be a girl and like Star Wars, or to be a man and decorate cakes and date women. That’s a good thing.


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