Tagged: boy

Dad shaped hole

I’ve watched two movies in recent times about the relationship between a son and his dad. The first movie, the Judge, was possibly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s an arm wrestle of wills between a dad and his son, and truly, something I think you ought to watch.

This will be a short blog, and I think I’ll cut right to the chase.

I think everyone has a dad-shaped hole. Something inside of them that’s just YEARNING for the love, acceptance and pride of their dad. I can’t speak for girls, but I certainly know it’s true for boys.

It’s this inbuilt gauge, a compass, a guiding force. Your mum will always love you, but your dad – that’s a different kettle of fish all together.

It’s in a three year old, pushing his toy lawnmower behind his daddy as he cuts the cuts the grass in front of him.

It’s in the eight year old, proudly showing his science experiment, longing to know that his dad thinks its cool.

It’s in the twelve year old, hoping that his dad will tell him these changes he’s experiencing are normal.

It’s in the fifteen year old, wondering if he’s tough enough to beat his dad in football.

It’s in the seventeen year old, hoping his dad is proud that he got his licence.

It’s in the 21 year old, aching to know his dad is there for graduation.

It’s in the 25 year old, bringing the girl he hopes to marry home, hoping his dad approves.

It’s in the 27 year old, standing at the alter, watching his mum cry, but looking for that silent nod of approval from his dad.

It’s in the 28 year old, walking his dad through his first new house, telling him of the DIY jobs he already has planned.

It’s in the 29 year old, handing his dad his grandchild, beaming with pride.

It’s in the 30 year old, just wanting to bounce ideas off his dad about this whole crazy idea about being married.

It’s in the 33 year old, needing his dads advice on whether or not to take that job interstate.

It’s in the 40 year old, just racking his brains about this whole life thing, trying desperately to hold onto something strong

It’s in the 50 year old, catching a glimpse of the joy his dad had when he had his first grandchild

It’s in the 60 year old, wondering how he would carry the family legacy, now his dad has gone

It’s in those silent moments of fishing together. Wrestling through an idea together. Arguing over who’s boss, like lions fighting for command of the pride. It’s in that moment, when a son knows his dad went hammer and tooth, never giving up, never giving in, even when, in retrospect, things weren’t that good.

Dads, your sons need you. They need you when they are infants. They need you when they are boys. They need you when they are teenagers and they need you when they are young adults. They need you as they journey through life.

I’ve said it before, but being a dad is not a passive activity. It’s something you journey through. At first, you are teaching your son, mentoring him, guiding him. You walk with him, are in the trenches with him, are side by side with him. Finally, he will walk with you. He will be by your side, being your strength, the joy that carries you along.

Dads, don’t be shy in showing your boys love, pride, discipline and guidance. Your boys are aching for it.

Image from http://dorkshelf.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads//2014/10/The-Judge-Featured-1900×560-1412876043.jpg

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Who’s shoes are you trying to fill?

I’ve got a friend who’s path has crossed mine intermittently over the last ten or so years. Recently, and very sadly, his dad passed away at a relatively young age from a terrible cancer. I saw this particular mate, only really in passing about a week ago. The look of, well, grief was written all over his defeated body. It was, for me a harrowing thing to see, and it’s been on my mind a lot over the last week or two.

I’ve written before about my story, and an article that I come back to time after time about dealing with your fathers death can be read here. I’m not really going to re-hash old territory – not totally anyway.

One thing people often say to you when your dad dies (especially at a young age) is how excellent your dad was, and quite often, how much you are like him. Indeed, it’s hard not to compare yourself negatively to this giant of a man that seems to have been created around you.

After the death of their dad, many boys (and men) struggle, trying to walk in shoes that they were never meant to wear. You could call it evolution, you could call it honour, you could call it seeking affirmation – I’m not too sure what it is, but inside a boy is an INTENSE desire to be loved and respected by his dad. When his dad is no longer around (and you can also argue it’s the case with boys who’s father isn’t on the scene), so often he finds himself lost, unsure where to seek these things from. He imagines shoes for him to fill – shoes that his father walked in.

One thing that I’ve been reminded of lately is one of the measures of a man isn’t how well he walked in his fathers shoes. It’s how he walked in his own shoes.

As a son, you never want to walk alone, and rightly so. As a man, some roads you walk down will be lonely. You will be faced with decisions, just like your father did – decisions you will need to make on your own. Sometimes, you know you have made the right decision, but walking down the right path can sometimes be a lonely road. Sometimes you’ll make decisions which turn out to be the wrong decision. We all make decisions with imperfect information – that’s half the battle of life, and indeed manhood itself – making decisions when all the bits of information isn’t available. That’s manhood. It’s about making a decision with the best information you had. It’s about being able to evaluate your decisions and confidently say Í was right’, or sometimes even ‘I was wrong’.

Sometimes, as a ‘fatherless son’, you long to hear your father correct you. Isn’t that strange! There are some decisions that you make, and you know full well that they are wrong, and you just long, long, long for his voice of correction, then restoration over you.

Y’know, your dad, without a doubt, made mistakes, as did his dad and his dads dad. It’s what made them who they are. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from them. Those mistakes wont define you, but they can mould you for the better, if you let them.

Learn from those mistakes. Feel the burn of correction. Tie your shoes up again and keep walking.

Your dad had his path. There would have been times in his life when he didn’t have anyone to turn too. When he didn’t have anyone to bounce an idea off, to sound off or just shoot the breeze. He would have made difficult decisions and felt alone.

There will be times when you do the same. You’ll be looking down the barrel of a hard decision, and in that time, there are only one pair of shoes you can walk in. There’s one pair of shoes you need to put a shine on. To lace up. To put on. Shoes that you need to walk in with the consequences of your own decisions. Your own.

Image from http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/03/13/economy-and-pair-shoes

Vidins Guide to Parenting Advice

You can't blame the shiner on bad parenting

You can’t blame the shiner on bad parenting

There’s no end of parenting advice and parenting theories out there. Many have their merits, their quirks, their cons.
Let’s not beat around the bush. If you’re a deliberate parent, you’re probably going to take the role more seriously and your kids are probably going to turn out better. Pretty much most parenting theories, when applied properly, will have some sort of positive impact. Engaged parents usually produce engaged, healthy kids.

Pretty much every parenting theory I’ve seen follows the same formula.

Vidins is here to decode the formula for you.

1/ Every parenting theory will criticize your parents.
They’ll use sympathetic lines like ‘your parents probably did the best they could, BUT’, or ‘you probably think that because you turned out all right, your parents ways were probably right too’. They’ll probably also bring up something gendered like dad spanked us and mum scolded us.
Don’t fall for the tricks!
These parenting theories do this to lure you into a false sense of security and try to make you pity your parents. Here’s the rub. You’re a parent and you want the best for your kids, right? Well your parents wanted the best for you, too. Are you saying that their method of parenting wasn’t good enough, or hip enough for you? Fo’ shame! Your parents loved you! It would be dishonouring to them not to emulate their parenting style!
Don’t believe the latest thing. Believe the genuine thing.

2/ Discipline Shmicipline.
Without a doubt, most ‘modern’ parenting theories will talk about discipline. They’ll probably talk about setting boundaries, naughty corners, time-outs and reinforcing good behaviour. All good things, by the way. All good if you have good children.
But you don’t have good children.
You have naughty children.
Very naughty children.
Tantrum in the shopping centre children.
Rice-bubbles all over the floor children.
‘NO!’ children.
You’re at your wits end. That’s why you’re watching a parenting DVD or reading a parenting book.
Most days you can’t decide if you want to put your kids up for adoption or drown them in the river.
Time outs? Give me a break! More like ‘time out to recharge the batteries to give mum more hell’.
Parents, it does not matter what the theories say, it’s ok to take to your kids backsides with a wooden spoon. Daily, if need be.
Your kids will learn. Oh yes, they will learn.

3/ Bring the Bible into it.
Now I can’t say for sure with the Muslims, or the Hindus or Buddhists, or even Sikhs, but I know for sure that a stack of Christian parenting theories will bring something of the Bible into the fold. The Bible is used to explain how you should talk to your kids, set boundaries, discipline, ethics, morality, faith (obviously).

Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but when it came to Jesus, God had it pretty easy in the parenting department, apart from the whole dying on the cross thing. Jesus, fully man yet fully God never sinned, never threw a tantrum (except for that time in the Temple with the tables), never said ‘NO!’. When he got lost, he didn’t run away to do something naughty – he just hung out at the Temple. You can’t tell me that that’s parenting a strong-willed child.

There’s a stack of excellent life advice in the Bible – not just for parenting, but pretty much every area of your life. Just be wary when select half verses are used to spiritualise an aspect of parenting.

4/ You’ll damage your children if you don’t use this theory
Inevitably, the parenting theorist will criticize all the other parenting theories out there. They will be to prescriptive, to disciplinarian, to libertarian, to permissive, not loving enough, not disciplining enough blah blah blah.
You know who parenting theories damage the most? Parents! Lofty ideals, impossibly high standards, impractical ideas and experts with picture perfect kids do damage to parents!

So what’s the modern parent to do? Stop reading parenting books or watching parenting DVD’s? Of course not! You could read through a whole parenting book and get one bit of gold that helps you on your parenting journey.

You have to find what works well for you and your family.

So my advice? Well for $25.99 plus postage and handling, I can send you my exclusive parenting DVD with the latest theory on parenting and childhood development, backed up by scientific research and endorsed by a real church minister!

The Commodification of your Memories

Pīrāgi and Coffee

I love photographs. I love instagram. I love seeing pictures of beautiful cities, sunsets, my family and new additions to the family.

Not too long ago, the family would have a camera. Usually an easy to use point-and-click device that had film in it. Some families were a bit lardy-da with a SLR and took nice looking photos. A family might take a role or two of film on holidays. A single photograph might be taken at a family picnic or a first day of school. Once the 24 shots had been taken, the film would be taken to the local camera store, where the photos would be developed. You’d excitedly open the packet of photos and eagerly relive the memories. It was an exciting moment, seeing the photos for the first time. Sometimes, the camera shop would put a sticker on one of the photographs, saying something like ‘I’d look great enlarged!’ if the photo was particularly beautiful or memorable.

The packet of 24 photographs would be taken home. A photo might go on the fridge. One might go with dad to work, to put on his desk. You might send grandma and grandpa a beautiful picture of the kids on the beach. Mum might make a page in the family photo album of the families recent Gold Coast holiday.

Only a select few people would see your family photographs. There was an intimacy to them. A specialness. A romance. When a son or daughter would bring home a significant other, looking at their baby photographs was a right of passage – it signified the significant other was being let into the family, into their intimate moments, into their story.

I just can’t help compare that with how different it is with photos these days. I recently went down south for my brother-in-laws 30th birthday. Even before the party started and the children were playing, I had taken over 100 photos on my iPhone! Can you believe it? Of those 100 or so, I culled them down to perhaps 60. I put maybe three or four onto my instagram.

These days, the trend seems to be that we generally take photos of everything and anything. Our morning coffee. The sunset. A funny face our children pull. A beautiful ocean vista. A family scene. Something arty. Multiple pictures of ourselves. We willingly submit these pictures to a corporation to manage. To hold. To own. To display. For others to ‘like’, for others to see.

Why do we do it? Is it just society telling us to? Do we need validation that our child is particularly special in eating baked beans in a highchair? Do we need to prove the view from our family holiday is amazing? Do we need to show the world that we can eat at some unique gin-joint? Have we all just become narcissists? Perhaps it’s much simpler than that. We want to share these special moments with others on a much grander scale.

I can’t help think that we have lost the intimacy of the photograph. The anticipation of taking a photograph on a camera and having your memories printed out on paper, just for you to see.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Have we taken photographs and social media too far? I’ve read about the hashtag #aftersex has become popular with the young and pretty. Now that’s definitely oversharing an intimate moment! Have we gone too far, or has photo-sharing been a good thing?

The bestest dating advice for teen-age boys (or the Lost Art of Making a Mixtape)

mix tape

OkCupid. EHarmony. AshleyMaddison. Tindr. Grindr. Adult Friend Finder. Match.com. Introduction agencies. Speed dating. Dating coaches. Dating advice websites. The Game. Swagger. That Will Smith movie.

All resources to help you in the dating market. All missing one crucial element.

Want to know how to catch the biggest fish in your pond? Want to get a second date? Want to impress? You know what you need? That’s right. You need to discover the lost art of makin’ a mixtape.

For all you young pups born after 1985, you won’t have any idea what I’m banging’ on about, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with you people. So let me help you out. Forget inappropriate snap-chats. Forget illicit KIK conversations. Forget suggestive self-made pictures on the instagram. You want to impress a gal? Here’s what you need. You need to learn how to make a mix-tape.

Now I totally get that you probably don’t have an FM wireless set with built-in cassette recorder, so you’ll just have to use up your parents interweb downloads and some sort of USB device to relay the music electronically to your romantic interest.

‘So what is a mix-tape?‘ I hear you ask. A mix-tape is where you select a range of songs for your romantic interest and painstakingly record them onto your USB device for her listening pleasure.

‘But Vidins, how do I know what music to put on the mix-tape?‘. Good question, chaps. A rookie mistake of making a mix-tape is recording songs that are outside your understanding. So often I hear of teen-age boys making mix-tapes with rap music by coloureds or unusual tunes from the orient. Whilst there may be an exotic novelty to these aberrations in music, it will only serve to confuse your potential lady-friend. Beneath the beats and interesting harmonies, the lyrics often speak of promiscuity, drug-use and unwholesome thoughts. Chaps, you want your mix-tape to tell your gal that you are a wholesome, upright guy. Don’t select music that may lead her to believe you are interesting in mixing things that shouldn’t be mixed!

It is integral that you select music that conveys your romantic intentions, but are not too suggestive. Explore the catalogue of music that can be found on the You-tubes and perhaps consult your church music library for appropriate music for youngsters. You want to relay to your gal that you admire her many character traits and find her physically striking. Nothing impresses a gal more than the ability to convey ones intentions to a catchy ‘boom-chicka’ beat! Why, when I was of dating age and courting Mrs Vidins, I impressed her on a number of occasions with a mix-tape laden with the wholesome sounds of Johnny Cash and the Carter Family band. You might scoff, but the results speak for themselves – we have been married happily for many a moon now!

Pups, you have the distinct advantage of being able to legitimately and legally source ‘music files’ at the click of a button. Why, when I was your age, I had to wait up for the Country Music Countdown or Monday Night Melodies with a fresh cassette tape ready, just waiting for the right songs to record! It is quite a skill being able to pause the cassette tape recording just before the disk-jockey throws to a commercial advertisement or the next tune!

‘Vidins, tell us more!‘ Ok calm down you eager beavers! Here’s some things to consider:
– Don’t be scared to record a personalised message at the start of your mix-tape. Record a few words expressing your thoughts towards your gal. ‘But my voice is still breaking – it sounds embarrassing’ I hear you say. Boys, it’s time to man up. If your voice still has a squeaky shrill, ask your father or uncle for some of his chewing tobacco. I promise, after a week of chewing, you will have developed a well-rounded, deep and masculine voice that will literally send ripples through your gals eardrums, into her soul.
– Start with something catchy. No one wants to listen to dreary sounds at the start of a mix-tape. Think of a catchy tune that will get her hooked. I personally think something from KC and the Sunshine Band or, if you’re thinking instrumental, some of Glenn Miller’s post-war melodies are always a hit!
– Avoid anything too topical or popular. When the song fades from the pops, so will your gals affections for you. I’ve seen it a million times before.
– Always have a strong ending. Think of something she will enjoy listening to before bed-time. Something that will give her pleasant thoughts before resting! I’ve found a selection of romantic tunes from Simon & Garfunkel’s folk collection will often suffice in this department.
– A handwritten note (sprayed with an appropriate cologne) will always give your gal both a visual and olfactory cue to enhance the listening experience.

So there you have it chaps. So much ‘modern’ dating advice is salacious and inappropriate at best. Let me implore you to employ the mix-tape in your dating arsenal. I promise you it will bring results!

photo sourced from the interwebs here: http://www.theweeklymeat.com/the_weekly_meat/2014/01/mixtape-2013-2014.html

Parents Guide to Theme Parks.

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So your wife suggests you take the family to a Gold Coast theme park while you’re on holiday. You get your discount tickets from the NRMA and make plans to incorporate a day out at Movie World.

Well your first mistake is telling the kids before the holiday that you are going to Movie World. In fact, you tell them a month before you go on holidays to the Gold Coast that you’re going to Movie World. Thanks to modern technology, the kids have googled, twittered and facebooked all their friends and family about everything they can do at Movie World. All you hear in the morning when you wake up is what you can do at Movie World. All you hear at the dinner table is what you are going to do at Movie World. The Youtube videos of the Green Lantern, Arkham Asylum and the Superman Ride have been etched into your memory.

The holiday comes and the Tiger Airways flight direct from Melbourne to the Gold Coast could best be described as a bus with wings. You arrive and your bags to a day or two later. It’s ok because you have Movie World to look forward too. The weather is lovely and the view from your Surfers Paradise apartment is panoramic. It’s so lovely and sunny. Thankfully it was your bag that went missing and not your kids. They could enjoy swimming in the pool or the beach, but they’d rather utilise the free Wi-Fi in the hotel or at the Maccas on Cavil Ave, taking selfies of themselves looking bored on holidays. You quickly realise that every shop in Surfers is three times the price as your local shopping centre in Melbourne AND Woolworths closes at 9pm, so there’s no chance of buying a cheap pair of togs & boardies to get you through until Tiger finds your bags.

As expected, the kids just seem to be waiting around for the third day, the day where you plan on going to Movie World.

Day three arrives and so does dark grey clouds. The kids aren’t perturbed, they’ve checked and most of the rides are still ride-able in the rain. You secretly hope the rain keeps everyone else from Melbourne away. You find out that everyone from Melbourne is used to the rain and they aren’t going to let it get in the way of going to Movie World

The kids have woken, over-excited at around 5. They’ve made themselves breakfast and you rise to find only a handful of ricebubbles mushed into the hotel carpet.

You board the overpriced shuttle direct from your hotel door, stopping only at 23 other hotels along the way, through peak hour Gold Coast traffic (and you remember that people actually work on the Gold Coast!). Thankfully you get the early shuttle, so you arrive at Movie World about an hour after the doors open. The rain, however, isn’t late. It’s 10am, you are noticing your children are starting to get a little, well, agitated. They’ve been up since 5!

The bogan family from Western Sydney push ahead of you in the turnstiles, causing your half-open bag full of pre-prepared sandwiches and snacks in zip-lock bags to fall out. Thankfully, it was only your egg-and-lettuce sandwich that was squashed by the imposing Islander guy and you decide that it’s probably not worth making any type of scene about it.

The rain starts a little heavier and your wife wonders aloud if they brought the Melbourne weather up with them. You’ve forgotten your brolly but thankfully you can buy one-size-fits-all (except you) ponchos for only $5 each or four for $17. Wrapped in a sweaty plastic bag your excited kids pull and tug at you, managing to rip your plastic poncho right down the back.

Well in the rush to get through the turnstiles and the thing with the bogan family and your bag being knocked over, you don’t realise that the lid on your coffee thermos was not as tight as it should be, so now you have a hot, brown mark all down the backside of your pink Gazman polo-shirt and white shorts. You realise you look ridiculous walking like you’ve crapped yourself with a brown mark down your pants.

You wait 45 minutes in line for the Green Lantern, in the rain. You can’t help but notice a worried maintenance man continually look into the sky and talk into his walky-talky. Hopefully it will be ok. You get to the front of the line. Thankfully this part is in the ‘shade’. The maintenance man in the walky-talky starts chatting more frequently. You realise you need to go to the toilet. Your kids have started the pre-lunch whine. You finally get to board the ride, until the attendant comes up to your youngest. His measuring stick goes right over the top of her head. You don’t know if its her wet hair or a tear, but her face is visibly upset – she’s too short for the ride! Your wife and the older two continue on, you carry your plastic-clad daughter down the cold metal steps. You can sense people staring at the rip in your poncho and your brown stained shorts.

59

You are excited that your wife and two oldest LOVED the Green Lantern. You line up for only 30 minutes for the Justice League ride. Your daughter is thankfully allowed on! You sit down on the ride, hold onto the rail and realise the last occupants thought you’d appreciate their chewing gum! Thankfully you’ve got the Dettol hand-sanitiser in your bag. You call out to your wife for the bag. She tells you that you had it. You bicker in front of the kids about who had the bag. The ride shuffles through the dark with holographic aliens hovering around, your kids enjoy blasting them as you and your wife disagree on who had the bag. You agree that neither of you have it. You realise that in the confusion of your youngest not being allowed on the ride, you left the bag at the Green Lantern.

After the Justice League, you race back to the Green Lantern. Thankfully, your bag is still there. Sadly, you left it in the rain. The camera is wet, the plastic-wrapped sandwiches have come unravelled. Your coffee has leaked through the bag. Your wife tries to comfort you but you can tell she’s annoyed too that all the sandwiches – the sandwiches you prepared to save a few dollars – have turned to a coffee-infused mush!

The kids enjoy hot chips in Ricks Diner. You agree that it was a waste of time making sandwiches and enjoy being out of the rain. Your pants have dried now, the brown mark certainly hasn’t faded. Your wife confirms it will come out with a bit of nappy-san.

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The Scooby-Doo ride is in the shade. Thankfully, the rain actually has kept a few people away and you only have to wait 40 minutes in the rain for your turn! The ride went super well until your middle child felt a bit green. Thankfully, the vomit came off the plastic poncho really easily and it was just his shoes that got a bit of half-digested hot chips on them!

The rain prevented any of the characters coming out, much to your children’s disappointment. Not that you could take photos anyway – your camera was soaked through and won’t be taking any more pictures. You just hope the memory card is in tact.

You take your oldest on the Arkham Asylum – by far the highlight of the day! You meet your wife and others in line for the Wild Wild West ride. You’re wet anyway, why not go on a ride that makes you wetter?

Well you got a lot wetter than expected on the Wild West ride. Actually, you seemed to take the blow for the family – they seemed to come out of the ride drier than when they came onto it!

You agree to take your youngest to Looney Tunes world while your wife takes the oldest two on the Superman Ride. You wait in line for the merry-go-round, the up-and-down ride, the kids dodgems, the tweety bird ride, the train ride and, in a spell of good luck, your daughter gets a photo with Bugs Bunny! You take a ticket to collect the photo when you leave.

54

Meeting up with your family at the 3D cinema for the last ride, your wife and children actually enjoyed two turns on the Superman ride! The line-up was unusually short and they ‘made hay while the sun shone’!

The 3D cinema was freezing. Three wet children in an uber-air conditioned cinema for 30 mins. You were thinking it. Your wife was thinking it. Your youngest started to sniffle first. The bogan family from Western Sydney seem to have sat in front of you. Their cold, wet and agitated youngsters seem to scream through the screening of the dinosaur film, really ruining the experience for you!

You collect the photo of your youngest and Bugs Bunny as you leave through the trade mark Warner Brothers Movie World arch. The shuttle back to the hotel is delayed about 30 minutes due to an earlier accident on the freeway. You finally board, with the bogan family from Western Sydney. Cold, wet, snotty noses, tired, irritable. You sit in silence on the bus. Your youngest rests her head on your chest.

The shuttle driver manages to miss the turn off and you take a 20 minute detour through Surfers getting back to your hotel.

Your children have hot showers.

Your wife makes lovely baked beans on toast.

Rain patters down on your 20th story windows and you overlook the stormy Pacific.

You sit down around the table with your wife and kids, all warm, all in lovely flannelette pj’s, all exhausted.

You smile as you hear them chatter about their ‘best day on holidays EVER!’, talking about the rides, the fun, the memories they’d all had. You’re day was meh. They didn’t see the rain, the lines, the wet sandwiches, the bogan family from Western Sydney, your broken camera, the detour, the sweaty plastic poncho. They saw a wonderful family day at Movie World!

When Ritual and Intimacy Collide

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Rituals. We all have them. Sport-stars have pre-game rituals. Lovers have intimate rituals. Families have rituals. Cultures, societies and religions all have their own rituals.

So often when we think of rituals, we think of old-fashioned, staunch practices. A boring church service at Christmas. The pomp of a military parade. The inflexible practices of yore.

Why do we have rituals? Do we have them to celebrate the past, or protect the future? Could it be both? Why do we brush our teeth? Is it so we remember our baby teeth, lost many years ago or to protect our mouths for many years to come? Certainly brushing teeth is an important, yet informal ritual. What about having dinner together as a family? The benefits of eating regular meals together are immeasurable. Do we eat meals together to remember times of old, or to set practices to keep the family together in the future?

There are some rituals that don’t seem like rituals at all. Going to your parents for dinner on a Sunday. Watching a game of football every Friday night with friends. Regular church attendance. Some rituals aren’t that exciting, some actually do seem boring and mundane. Some argue that rituals have no use – that we should be free to do what we want, when we want with scant regard to culture, religion or society.

I’d argue that a healthy ritual (and that does not always mean exciting or fun), keeps an individual strong. A strong individual will have strong relationships – strong individuals have strong family and friendship networks. He feels connected, depended upon and supported. He is a contributor for his family, a good employee or boss. Strong families mean a strong community. A strong community means it’s members contribute, understand their role and their place. A strong community keeps a country strong. Strength comes with strong rituals, from the ground up and the top down.

If rituals are the machinery that builds up, intimacy is the oil that keeps the parts moving.

Most defiantly, some rituals do feel clunky and dry. Rituals however build a framework. A framework that protects when many other things fall down. There is a security in a ritual. Something to turn to, to keep you going when everything seems to be falling apart.

What brings a ritual to life? It’s the people. The connections. The ritual is the framework. The structure. The people fill up the structure and bring it to life. The structure supports the intimacy.

I think of my family ritual of reading Bible scriptures at dinner. The ritual is the reading, the intimacy is the children choosing the story, of learning about what the Lord has done.

I think of the ritual of shaving. The ritual is a boy taking pride in his appearance. The intimacy is his father teaching him the ways of a razor.

I think of the ritual of having a coffee in the morning. The intimacy is me being able to talk to my family again after I’ve enjoyed my daily brew!

Intimacy does not have to be structured. Some of the most special times anyone can have are the unstructured times, the times that catch you by surprise. I was packing some boxes the other day when I came across a harmonica that belonged to my late Grandfather. My children were amazed at this palm-shaped musical instrument that played a strange tune. In that short time, I was able to share with my children about their great-grandfather. An everyday moment, turned special.

You can’t have stability just with intimacy. If you chase pure intimacy, at the risk of neglecting ritual, you’ll end up chasing a fleeting feeling. This is true in families, in marriages, in work, in study, on the sports field, in your faith. Feelings come and go. Many times, it’s the ritual, the practice that will keep you going. Can you imagine a sports team who chases the winning feeling, instead of practicing the rituals of fitness, teamwork and discipline? The team will surely fall apart. Can you imagine a marriage where the partners chase a feeling of closeness, rather than practice the rituals of giving, patience and gratitude? Surely the marriage will be lost in a sea of instability.

Rituals aren’t the most sexy thing to talk about. Some are doggone boring. Find healthy rituals to engage in – for yourself, your family, your faith, your relationships. Doing will often bring about ‘feeling’. When you’re doing, enjoy the closeness that comes from doing it together. The laughs that come from ‘doing’ ritual wrong. The closeness of doing something together. The strength that comes from the ritual and the closeness you find when engaging those you love in them will surely help when times of trouble come.

Picture lifted from: http://www.helenahistory.org/frontier_town.htm