Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fathers Who Care!

Every day is Father's Day...akin to Mother's Day!

If I had my child to raise over again,
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch and watc with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious...and seriously play.
I would run through some fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree and acorn more often.
I would be firm less often and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love power...and more about the Power of Love.
(Author Unknown)

A little boy in one of my grade classes, told me about his skate board that needed repair. He took it to his father, asking him to fix it. Realizing that Pops himself could easily do this for his son, seized the opportunity to instruct his son how to repair it...creating a bonding experience for both father and son!

The Cost of Kids Causes Consternation!
(Excerpts from a writing by Paul Benedetti, a frequent contributing author
and journalist to The Hamilton Spectator)
Recently we engaged some young men to wash the windows at our house. Now, you might reasonably ask, “Why don't you wash your own windows?”Actually, I have occasionally, I mean at least once in the last 4 or perhaps it's eight years. When my wife exhorts me to clean them, I counter with, “Isn't that what rain is for?” This is the same theory that many young men employ for never cleaning the shower. “It's filled with water and soap all day. It must be clean,” they say, and we all know how that turns out! Actually, I don't mind cleaning windows at ground level, but I'm not so good at high windows. Being up high is fine. It's the falling down I mind. Hence, the reason we brought in the young men from a company we'll call University Amateur Window Cleaning. My wife overheard them chatting about having children. One of the guys ~ they were all about 18 or 19 ~ said he had read that raising kids was expensive“They cost about $250,000 each! And that's before the post-secondary education,” he told his incredulous pals.

I'm sure most kids don't give a thought to how much money they cost, until they start, you know, working for money. Then you can see the little wheels turning in their teenage heads. “At $12 an hour, I'd have to work...TEN YEARS straight to pay for myself!!!” My wife went out to talk with them. “Having children isn't a financial decision. We had three kids without worrying about that,” she said cheerily. Having kids is a big life choice, but it's not the money...money, money,” she said...and started singing...”Ain't about the uh cha-ching cha-ching, aint' about the yeah, b-bling,b-bling.” At about this point, a couple boys dropped their squeegees, so I quickly guided her back into the house.

Thinking about their conversation, I smiled...at some time every parent lies in bed worrying about decades of work...their RRSP's (too low)...their debt (too high) and wonders, “Man, where DID all that money go?” I can tell you where it went...to ballet and braces...to piano lessons and painting classes...to karate and Kumon...to childcare and hair care...and during the teenage years: FOOD! If I had just what we spent on milk and Cheerios, I'd be red-hot on the beach in Jamaica instead of being in my backyard eating Red Hots.
People often ask me,”What's the best thing about parenting?” “Conception,” I say!
If you decide to be a parent, and God or life or fate favours you with children, then you are lucky indeed! And if you have enough money for food and a home and your kids are loved and safe, then that's what really matters. When I was young, someone told me that being a good father was the most important thing I would ever do in my life. At the time, I didn't really believe them. But I do now!
And there's no price tag on that!

For Gloria, the Fatherless Girl We Left Behind
(Excerpts from Thomas Froese's article about fatherhood, travel and life)
She's the Ugandan girl who we left behind in a part of the world where, this weekend, there is no Father's Day. And even if there was, this girl, our friend has no father to honour on it. So while it's only suitable that so many fathers and children be given one day a year to consider how inadequate we all are with this business of honouring each other, this is about a fatherless girl on just another fatherless day. Her name is Gloria. My family met her one typical African day after clothes mysteriously began vanishing from our backyard clothesline: my wife's shirts, my girl's swimsuits, my boy's underwear...gone! One day we met when more clothing was disappearing...she ran and ran until I caught her. Soon after, we visited her house, really a shack..our.clothes like rags piled in a corner. After that, Gloria gave is a hand-written apology. And the friendship began...especially with my older daughter, Liz. Gloria visited our Ugandan home more often than with her friends. Just before our return to Canada, we ensured sponsorship for her school costs so she has at least half a chance in a world that's so unkind to the fatherless.

Fatherless children, especially girls, struggle with sexuality and body image. Later, they also fall easier into poor relational choices and divorce, fuelling the cycle for their own children. It's all heartache. This is what the social science tells us...unless the pattern is broken.

Gloria's new school is a boarding school. That's common for African children. Even with bare living standards, children can stay focused on their studies. Boarding also gives Gloria at least a measure of safety. We don't know what happened to her father...he may be dead...or he may just be dead to the ways of hope and encouragement that children need. When daily reality doesn't meet the false expectation, like Gloria, they run and run. We especially steered her to some community supports in Uganda when discovering she'd been hiding from some young criminals. Some nights she'd hide in public washrooms. There she is, like some vagabond, lost and homeless and fearful, not unlike anyone outside of Eden, I suppose. Even as I picture Gloria as a girl of honour, the high honour given to any human because of our mere humaneness, created in God's image.
How do the Glorias of the world ...there are so many...give much honour
on any given fatherless day?
What I do know is that to give honour, often enough, is to forgive. Even fathers who don't deserve forgiveness. Especially undeserving fathers. There's an unavoidable difficulty in this.
And beauty. And peace. And freedom.

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled June 17, 2017

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