Daddy Don’t Go

According the the US Census 1 in 3 children grow up in a single parent home without their father present (source).

“Daddy Don’t Go” is a documentary by Emily Abt and Andrew Osborne that looks at one year in the lives of four different fathers who have chosen to be the exception.  They are fighting against their pasts of poverty, criminal history, unemployment, and drug/alcohol abuse to try and be the best possible father to their children.

“The film poses urgent questions that expand the ongoing national dialogue concerning fatherhood. Can a man be a good dad in spite of not being a great provider? How does being a father shift a man’s identity?”

The documentary is due to be finished mid-2014, as long as it receives the needed funding.

**I’ve been informed the video is not working for everyone.  In case you are one of those people you can view it here.

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Be gentle with the childless on Mother’s Day

A post written by a dear friend of mine.  Read more about her journey on her blog, Walk With Us.

Walk With Us

Here it is, nearly Mother’s Day. Can’t believe how unremarkable the day is to me, nor how little I want to write about it. Almost as if, now that the pain of childlessness is mostly gone, I just don’t want to go there anymore.

So there’s a wee bit of hope for you, women with aching arms! One day the pain may subside. But today I write a post for those who ache still, who cower at this upcoming holiday that pours acid on their hearts.

Actually, I’m writing to all you husbands, parents, siblings, and friends of those hurting women. Because YOU CAN HELP. Here’s how:

But first, a disclaimer. Please use your own best judgment. You are the ones who love and know the women you’re thinking of right now. I write from my experience and personality. Ignore the suggestions that would be an obvious poor choice for…

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For Your Eyes Only

No, I’m not talking about a James Bond movie.  In Spain an organization called Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation (ANAR) came up with the idea to create an ad that shows adults and children different messages.  Depending on the angle you look at the ad you either see a child’s face with the words “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it,” or you see the same face with bruises on it and the message becomes, “if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you.”  It has to do with the height of the person looking at the ad.  Smaller people, ie children, are able to see the message if they are under a certain height.  The idea is that the child can see this message, along with the organizations help line number, even in the presence of their abuser, or aggressor.

I think this is an awesome idea.  In reading some of the comments on the video and other articles I’ve seen something that has come up for other readers/viewers is that this ad is exposing the “normal” or “innocent” children to abuse.  Disclaimer, I do not have children.  But if I did I would have no problem with them seeing this ad.  It is important for children to understand that bad things happen, and that bad things can happen to children.  I also believe in teaching children the correct and real names for their private parts.  Teaching children about abuse, letting them see this ad, is a form of empowering them to have a voice.  Even if that child is not being abused one of their friends might be.  We need to give children more credit sometimes.  They see and notice more than we think they do.  I’m not saying that you should go into graphic detail with a child about the types and forms of abuse but there is nothing wrong with teaching a child to recognize it.  Same thing with teaching them proper names for their genitalia.  First of all the words vagina and penis are not bad words.  They are part of our bodies.  Teaching that they are bad creates a culture of shame.  Second of all if a child is being abused and they do not have the language to express what is happening, or where someone is touching them, it is dangerous.  It keeps children in the dark, and their abusers in power.

So, without further ado here is the video.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think the ad has the potential to do any good?

A Letter to my Nephew

To my dearest nephew,

You don’t know it yet but you are privileged.  You may get better, higher paying job offers than your sister.  People will not assume you are a bad driver just because of your gender.  When you grow up, people will listen to what you have to say, even if it is ridiculous.

I watch you play on the playground with other children and am brought to tears by your compassion.  The way you include others in whatever game you have invented makes me so proud of you.  The way you watch out for your sister even when she is not paying attention touches my heart.  The way you, at family gatherings go out of your way to sit by grandpa and include him in the conversation because he cannot hear everything convicts me, because I did not consider doing the same.  Your heart is so big and you notice everyone around you.  You know exactly when someone needs a hug and you’re never afraid to be the one to give it.  You are a great mediator even if you don’t know what that means yet.  You are so good at making sure everyone gets a say and all the voices are heard.  You are the most caring ten year old I know.

And yet the day will come when someone will try and beat that compassion I love so much out of you.  You may be called a fag or gay.  Someone will tell you, you throw like a girl and instead of making you laugh it will hurt your feelings.  When you cry someone will tell you to man up, suck it up, or stop acting like a girl.  You will be expected to punch your friends and play sports, even if it is not really your thing.  And if you resist they may hurt you.  You will be expected to be physical, tough, and a womanizer, you will even be praised for it.  You will no longer feel comfortable having tea parties with your sister on the front lawn.  You will no longer laugh about that time you dressed up like a girl for a fundraiser.

My hope for you is that you resist.  That you hold onto your love and compassion for others.  Say fuck ‘em if you have to but never stop caring for the weak, the unnoticed, and the underrepresented.  Don’t let people get away with telling you you’re not a “real man” because you cry when you fall, or you like hanging out with your sister.  Don’t listen to them when they tell you that to be cool you have to play sports and date lots of girls.  Don’t let them off the hook when violence against women is treated as a joke or being compared to a woman is used as an insult.  Remember the amazing women in your life who are strong, beautiful, and capable (and could kick their ass if need be).  Never stop telling your mom you love her and when they tease you because of it tell them you had to say it because it is the truth.  Never stop hugging your parents because they will always need your hugs and never stop letting me kiss you on the head, even though soon you will be taller than me.

You are a bright, wonderful little person and I love you so much.  I hope that even as you get older you will still get excited to see me and be bursting to tell me about your day.  So, when you have to, say screw the world, and always be true to who you really are.

Mandating Good Parenting?

“Can Motherhood be Criminalized?” by Kathy McManus

(Click on the link above to go to the article)

My Thoughts:

“She has a fundamental right to reproduce, so I couldn’t order her to be sterilized. But she can be forced to forfeit certain fundamental rights.”

I have conflicting emotions about this article.  Of course child abuse is wrong and we should do everything humanly possible to prevent it.  But on the other hand is taking away a woman’s right to reproduce the answer?  Then, I asked myself if the judge was sentencing a man to forfeit his right to reproduce would I be as conflicted and upset?  The answer: probably not.  That’s when I knew I needed to take a deeper look.

I have often thought that there are some people who should just not be able to reproduce, whether I am joking around after hearing a story about something incredibly stupid someone did, or listening to a woman’s story at work about her childhood.  I find myself upset at irresponsible and neglectful parents.  This is normal and I believe the appropriate response.  I do not know whether or not it is “hardwired” into us as a culture to want to protect our children, but there is something deep inside of me that reacts when I think about a child being the recipient of any type of violence.  There should be serious repercussions for perpetrators of child abuse.

On the other hand, there is so much more at play in a story, and when we do not know the whole thing we need to be careful with our judgements.  What is known about domestic violence is that it is very complicated.  Maybe the fact that men are more likely to be perpetrators is why I would have an easier time agreeing with the sentence if the recipient was a man.  It might also have to do with the fact that I am a woman and can more easily identify with the woman in the article.  I still wouldn’t wholly agree, but it would be easier to accept.  Either way, I wonder if restricting a person’s reproductive rights (and/or ability) is the right course of action.  This seems to be bordering on something much more dangerous and is beginning to sound a little Brave New World(y)…

Thoughts from you?