Many people ask me how to respond to sorrow and grief. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been quite honest and upfront about my own journey. Perhaps people think I’ve got something to say. What ever it is, I’m constantly honoured when people ask me my advice.
As I’ve talked about in earlier posts, I’m naturally a terrible introvert. I’m most comfortable living in my own world of uncommon sense, enjoying a tidal wave of thoughts every second, lapping up the totality of humanity and enjoying my small contribution to those around me. For me, the question ‘what are you thinking’ can be an incredibly difficult question to ask! I often have to get over the thoughts of ‘these are my thoughts, not your thoughts! You can’t think my thoughts, they are mine, get your own thoughts to think about!’. Then I realise they (usually my wife!) just want to know what I’m thinking, because, well that’s what gals like to do. They arn’t wanting to steal my thoughts (which are my thoughts to think), they just want to know.Odd creatures.
Not too long ago, I talked about the serendipity of silence, in relation to being quiet within yourself. Friendship can be much the same way, as can responding to grief.
There is an art to being with someone. To being able to be there – just being – physically, emotionally or mentally. To communicate an essay of emotion without even mentioning a syllable. I actually think guys can be better then girls at this. Why? Who knows. I think guys just get that sometimes, you’ll talk when you’re ready, and only when the required pre-conditions are met for communication.
Sometimes you can say it all, without saying a word. The sum of shared experiences that bind a pair of people can sometimes mean so much more then, well, words.
For me, I quite enjoy listening to others. I love the concept of someones story. I love hearing the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. I love a good laugh.
Sometimes, the best way to journey (not help, journey) with someone through grief is just by being there. There’s probably nothing you can say that will take the pain away. You can’t apologise for someones loss. You probably can’t fathom what they are feeling. What you can do is be there.
It’s often through silence that you get the best conversations. The biggest insights. The most powerful breakthroughs. Some things you cant rush with words. The crassness of communication turns a journey of grief into a destination that needs to be ‘talked through’.
I think one of the greatest respects you can pay a friend is the respect of silence. Of understanding that you both don’t have to talk. The respect of being. Some might consider this an incredibly shallow friendship – however, I think contrary to this. It certainly does not replace the pillars of friendship that include intimacy, openness and a shared history. What the respect of silence says to your companion is that silence isn’t a gap between you. It’s not a void that needs to be filled with words. It’s actually an invisible bond between you.
I observed two old friends at a funeral recently. Usually very chatty, no words were minced or wasted between the pair during the season of mourning. I watched as they stood together, strolled together through the green expanse of the cemetery and enjoyed the closeness of a silent bond together. Neither had to say a word to each other – each knew silence was all they needed to convey their deepest sympathies to each other.
It’s the totality of your walk together. The sum of your shared experiences. It’s a respect, often hard earned through lifes hard knocks.
So next time you are at a loss to support someone, especially someone in grief, support them with silence. Support them with an acknowledgement of being. That they don’t need to say or justify anything they are thinking or feeling. That you love, respect and want to support them just the way they are.
Silence. It brings with it more heartfelt communication then the most beautifully constructed sentence that you can ever construct.
Image lifted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/faris-khalifeh/2068051840/?rb=1
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.
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!
I’ve just bought a house and will be moving next week. It’s a very exciting time for me and my family! We’ve told our extended family and shared some photos on Facebook. We’ve had a look through home decorating magazines and catalogues for ideas to personalise our home and garden. We are very, very excited!
One of the most amazing things about life is sharing it with those you love. Your family. Your friends.
You would probably have people in your life that you miss – children that have moved away, parents that have passed on, friends you’ve lost along the way.
What I’ve been thinking about is who misses you?
Could it be a new girl or boyfriend, anxiously waiting your call or message in the evening, missing you even though you’ve just seen each other during the day?
Could it be the child who’s run away, and has a parent searching, missing, wishing they’d come home?
Could it be the old friend, wishing he’d never said those words, just missing his old mate.
Who’s missing you?
Who’s waiting by their letter box, waiting for a letter from you?
Is there someone who still checks their phone, hoping for a text from you?
Is there an old mate of yours out there, just wanting to have a beer with you one more time?
I bet there are people out there that miss you. They don’t need to know all the intimacies of your life, they just want to be part of it.
I’m going to challenge you. Send that text. Pick up the phone. Write (and send) that letter. Go out for that drink. Because you know what’s worse than being missed? It’s not being missed.
Checking in before you check out. A guide to retirement villages.
Harvey Bay. Heaven’s Waiting Room.
Last call for drinks – a hospital food service attendant tells all
1950’s. When ‘Darkie’ was an observation, not a criticism.
Open hand or wooden spoon? Your guide to modern parenting.
Spoonning. What do you do with that awkward boner?
Twitter, because there’s bound to be someone out there who’s interested in your inane, boring thoughts.
‘Cool post’ and other lies you write on Facebook
‘Hide relationship status’ – Zukerberg’s gift to cheaters.
You look 34 seconds older in this selfie, compared to the last selfie
I’m interested in all the blogs that you haven’t written, but really want to.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“We’ve managed to intergrate women into the workforce but not men into domestic life”
The above quote comes from a recent article in the Atlantic, entitled ‘Why Dads Matter’.
Without a doubt, we’ve come a long way in family and gender roles in the last 60 years. Women can enjoy climbing a career ladder, should she chose. Men can enjoy showing open affection and love to his children. Partners of both genders aren’t scared to participate in domestic chores.
From the get-go, this post isn’t about women. We can all agree that women do an amazing job, that a women’s place is NOT in the home (whilst many families do chose for a mum to be a stay-at-home-mum or only work part time) and that being a stay at home parent is hark yakka. I don’t want to detract from the amazing, dedicated work that ladies do for their families, often at the expense of their own happiness. Sorry ladies, this post isn’t for you. This post is about men.
It seems that much argument in modern literature on marital relations seems to be the division of household labour. It seems to have reduced marriage to ‘doing what’s fair’ in a relationship, certainly in and around the home.
The modern man finds himself torn between his responsibilities of working and providing, yet being the ‘hands-on’ father and husband so often expected by todays ladies.
I want to put this delicately. There’s no doubt that men need to have a level of domestication. It’s important to know how to use appliances, cook a few meals, be a hands on dad. What we don’t need is an extra mother and wife in the house. A man should be free (as should a woman) to express his manliness in his home, with his wife, with is children. I’ve seen many instances where a man has been chastised for being too rough, for not doing washing in the ‘correct’ way, for not cooking the healthiest meals.
I’ve written before on the importance of a man being able to have time off. I guess this is a follow on from that. I want to encourage men that they don’t need to parent the same as their wives. Most certainly, both parents need to be on the same page in relation to parenting – discipline, standards, ethics, beliefs etc. But the way this is exhibited between the sexes is very different.
The industrial revolution saw men being removed from their houses, their wives and their children. Cities saw men commute to work, to not having an ongoing, daily influence in their children’s lives. No longer did the son work the fields with dad, or spend time learning tools, hunting or appropriate gender roles. The dad was separated from his son, the son his father. Dad’s influence was reduced to a short period of time during dinner, before bed and on the weekend. Formalised education saw boyhood exploration diverted to rote learning. I’m not suggesting for one second we do away with formalised education – this is and will be an important for all humanity.
Men, it’s not the level or amount of domestic chores you do that will teach your children life lessons. Doing and being a part of domestic life is important, yes, but it’s not the be-all and end-all for fatherhood. Your children will need learn appropriate domestic responsibilities, yes. It’s not, however, the mark of a man. It’s the quality of relationship you have with your wife and your children that will leave its mark. It’s how you love and respect your wife that will make the most impact on your children, not the amount of ironing you do. Sometimes that will involve being very involved with domestic chores, yes.
Men, you can teach your children by involving them in your pursuits, your goals, your passions and being involved in your children’s goals, passions and pursuits. You can teach them the value of a days labour. Of having a goal, setting goals and getting results. You can teach them about how to respect the environment while in the great outdoors. You can teach them about spirituality while fishing. You can teach them about respect for themselves and family as you show them how to tend a yard, build a garden or help a neighbour.
The above quote talks about men being ‘integrated’ into domestic life. I don’t like that saying. I’d rather men compliment domestic life. For me, the term ‘integrate’ just seems to devalue the unique perspectives and approach men have to family life. Men, listen to and love your wives. Support them in all the choices you make together, whether she be at home full time,, working or a mixture of both. A home is where everyone can express their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears – without fear.
I’m not talking about us men ruling the roost with an iron fist – not one iota. I’m saying that it’s appropriate to be a man in your house. Don’t be awkward about your masculinity. Embrace it. Love your children, love your wife. Be a man and don’t try to copy your wife in all she does around the home. You’ll end up treading on her toes and annoying her!
Men, enjoy your masculinity. We weren’t created the same as women – we’re different. Don’t try to be the same. Compliment your wife in all she does, don’t copy what she does.
Different thinking? Yes. I think different thinking is good, just like men and women are different!
Above photo is of Robert F. Kennedy, sourced from mediagallery.usatoday.com
I was encouraged to do a eulogy by a close family friend, for my Grandmother’s funeral. I had erred about different words and didn’t really have a peace about sharing thoughts. I knew my Uncle would deliver an excellent eulogy and I was concerned, compared to his, mine wouldn’t hit the mark.
I ended up doing a eulogy for my Grandmother. Want to hear it? (Well, read it!!)
Ok you’ve twisted my arm…
Thank you everyone for coming here today. Thank you Uncle Vid for that moving eulogy, I for one certainly appreciated hearing what you had to day. I know that each and everyone of you here today are here because you love, were loved and have been touched by the life of Olga.
I need some help here. Now who has sat at Olga’s table and enjoyed her cooking? Her delicious roasts? Pancakes with that rich, sour-cream filled sauce? Tea and vibrant conversation? I tell you, Olga could cook!
One of the things that I enjoyed most about Olga’s cooking was bacon rolls. Who here has enjoyed her bacon rolls? I tell you, I loved her bacon rolls!
For those un-initiated, bacon rolls are these little crescent shaped yeast-dough treats filled simply with bacon, onion and lots of pepper. They were simple, delicious and one was never enough.
For me, Olga was the perfect bacon roll. The elements, simple on their own, blended together to make something oh so amazing!
How is Olga like a bacon roll? Lets explore these elements!
Of course, firstly there is the bacon. The bacon in Olga’s life was her relationships. Olga had really meaty, loving, life-long relationships. The love she had for all her family, near and far was always evident. If you were part of Olga’s family, either by blood, law or honour, you were part of her family for life! When you were Olga’s friend, or family, she always saw the good in you. She always wanted to lift you up, encourage you, hear from you. You couldn’t know Olga and not be loved by her. She was meaty in her relationships, she loved those whom she called family and friends.
The next component of Olga, like bacon rolls, was onion. For Olga, the onion is like her love for Latvia. Vid told us so perfectly of her traumatic escape from Latvia and all the hardships both she and her country endured, yet she still just loved Latvia. A love she was proud to share, to tell and reminisce about. It was Olga’s love for Latvia that has encouraged me and my brothers to seek out our Latvian heritage, to learn about her people, her culture, her history. Any time spent with Olga and she would beautifully describe her childhood in the farms and forests of her home country.
Hands up who has been on the receiving end of one of Olga’s ‘discussions’?! I tell you, like the pepper in bacon rolls, Olga’s conversation was certainly peppered at times with spicy conversation! She was not backwards in coming forwards! Sometimes hot, sometimes peppery, always in love! I often remember that, whilst she may have often been a little ‘peppery’ in her delivery, she certainly and fervently wanted to know your opinion. Conversation for Olga was a true exchanging of ideas. She was never scared in telling her opinion, she always, always wanted to know yours!
The thing that keeps bacon rolls together is the yeasty, soft dough. For Olga, the dough that kept her life together was her faith. Yes, Olga loved her family, her friends and Latvia, but most of all, Olga loved the Lord. Up until the very day she passed, she was still learning about, and loving the Lord. Her faith was a living faith – it had been tested many, many times over. She knew the love of Jesus in her life, she had a desperation to love a life that would honour him. Most importantly, she knew above all things that her eternal life is kept safe in Him. She had a hope in eternity that was unshakable. If you knew Olga, you would know she would want you to know that the you too could have the same confidence in eternity as she did!
Now not many people make bacon rolls anymore, but if you do happen to stumble across these delicious treats, thing about Olga for a moment. Thing about the love she had for you. Think about the love she had for Latvia . Think about the love she had for the Lord!
I know, above all things, this would have made her smile!