Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WEEK 26 QU0TE 26

"At least 10 children have fathers trapped in the Pike River coal mine - . . . . More than 10 others go anxiously through their primary school routines while their fathers prepare to enter the burning, gassy, potentially explosive mine to rescue their mates, trapped underground since the explosion on Friday afternoon. . . . .
At local schools, all appears normal, at least at a distance. But on a closer look, everyone is affected.
A 13-year-old girl said her brother was friends with the young trapped miner, Joseph Dunbar, 17. Her friend has an uncle stuck underground. She is chatty, cheery and seemingly in good spirits - but that is not the full story.
'You have to keep strong for everyone,' she said, and for a moment the gravity of the situation flashed across her face. . . .
Grey Main Primary School principal Mandy O'Sullivan said 12 Pike River miners had children at her school, though none were trapped.
Ten others are part of Mines Rescue, ready to enter the hazardous mine when conditions clear. . . .
'At this stage, the students have been exceptionally brave in a time of uncertainty,' Ms O'Sullivan said.
The children had been reassured and encouraged to talk honestly about the situation, and they had not been overdramatic, she said. '[But] they're anxious like the rest of us, really.'
It was important that parents sent their children to school and made sure they had consistency, she said.
Many parents kept their children home on Monday, but most turned up yesterday. . . 
'We feel it's important to keep routines as normal as possible.' "
THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD Wednesday 24 2010. Children Still to Realize Miners' Plight : Michael Dickison

The tragic sadness of the Pike River mine disaster over this past week here in New Zealand, has been another reminder of REAL life, with its wide gamut of experiences - emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Of course this mine disaster is at one extreme of life experiences. None-the-less it does throw out a challenge to us as parents to question ourselves as to if we bring our children into contact with the extremes that life can have. Or are we only working at keeping things 'tidy' and comfortable?
This past week I have been asking myself - how would my children today, deal with the loss of a father, a brother or close loved-one?
Pike River coal chief executive, Peter Whittall and police superintendent Gary Knowles, have been examples of strength of character to marvel at. In all world catastrophes throughout time, we have known similar calibre. But would my children - even as adults, be amongst that group of 'resilient' people?

How do we as parents, 'build' these aspects into our children's character? 
Maybe there is help in thinking on the comments that we have heard many times in the last days on our TV news programs. Many people on "the Coast"  when asked how they will cope, have talked of the region's 'resilience', that has come from living and working through previous trials and difficulties of the past. Possibly this is a clue, a help, a question for us as parents to think on. Are we allowing the natural smaller difficulties of life that come our way, especially come our children's way, to be a positive practice ground for their future?

I'd love your thoughts and ideas here.
What do you think?
How can we in practical terms equip our children to 'do well' in a huge, life-changing tragedy?


Thursday, November 11, 2010


"My father died when I was three, leaving my mother to raise three kids on her own. My mother was adamant about raising her kids to be independent, self-sufficient members of society. . . 
My mother would punctuate each comment with the reminder that she had to figure it out after my father died. She did not want her children to face the same fate . . . She felt cheated because he had left so soon. I knew. . . that my mother had filled me with her anger and sadness over losing my father. I realized I had never been told by my mother what to expect from a man, so all this time I had been flying blind.
What about these women who had to grow up hearing complaints that their father was never around. What about these mothers who have faced a bitter divorce? Are they projecting all their drama on their kids as well? Has this created a generation of hurt, angry women who only know how to be single?. . . ."
"Mothers Raising Girls to be Single" : Audrey Irvine.  May 6  2010.


A.  Attitude to Men
Audrey Irvine's account describes  how her mother's experience and attitude towards her husband, affected Audrey's attitude to men. Later in this article she speaks of the change in her attitude to men that came three weeks before her mother's death, when she talked at length about her husband's great humor and good nature. For the first time Audrey realized her mother's fears, caused by the loss of her husband as a young mum, had affected how she represented men to her daughter. Mum's fears and disappointments had been transferred to daughter Audrey.

A mother sends clear information to her daughter about the importance, the value and her personal attitude about men. It is communicated through her actions, her words, her looks, her behaviour, her priorities towards her husband, her sons, and men and boys who regularly are a part of their life.

These sometimes subtle, unconscious actions are powerful directives to a watching daughter.

Of course there are times when all husbands disappoint, irritate or annoy their wives, just as we do likewise to them. The point is as Audrey Irvine made, that as mothers we need to be sure to communicate to our daughter, the full  picture of who their father is. The constant put-down, criticism and registration of irritation through body language, facial expressions, behaviour and words, give a complete negative about men to our daughters.   (You may like to read William Leith's comments on dads being represented in children's literature as hopeless and useless, in my post  "Absent Fathers"  WEEK 14  QUOTE 14) 

Daughters need to see, hear and observe the full story of who their dad is through our reactions to him, which form her future attitude to men in general.

If you find you are prone to too much criticism of your daughter's father, you can work at adding a true positive comment about him to the conversation.

B.  Flexibility for Multi - 'Occupations'
Women of most cultures through out history have lived through the changing sequence of 'occupations' or 'seasons'. A woman's life does not stand still. Along with these changing occupations, her life has several parts or strands simultaneously moving along, merging and diverging all at the same time. Some women are very successful in living a full, busy and humming-along lifestyle, while others of us feel it is more like a chaotic traffic-jam.

How can a mother equip her daughter to be flexibly prepared for the multi-occupations and the several stranded life that is ahead for her?

It is through teaching life skills to her from childhood and through their teenage years.
 ~  how to plan, grow, shop for and cook food - from small beginnings to the real deal. . . 
 ~  how to organize, maintain, tidy and clean - a drawer, a cupboard, a room, the house. . . 
 ~  how to learn about a new job, to assist someone doing the job, to independently do the job, to 
        teach the job to another. . .
 ~  how to choose, buy, mend, wash and care for clothes. . .
 ~  how to earn, save, invest, spend and give away money. . .

In teaching these things to our girls, we give them a great asset whatever they become in the future.

The regular practice of multi tasking, the awareness of several things going on at once and learning discernment to decide what IS important or needs attention now, are rare but much-needed skills.
A girl brought up fully involved in real-life jobs and responsibilities of a family, learns such skills.
Here she can practice and develop the flexibility to adjust to the many aspects of her future role as  a           career woman,      a wife,       a woman that works,     a mother,      a voluntary aid worker,       a support person,        a combination of any of the above    and MORE.

C.  Learning About Sex.
Generally speaking women seem to be more open in discussing sex with their daughters, than are dads with their sons. Our culture is obsessed with the subject and unfortunately sex seems to be made a part of things that actually have nothing to do with it. As a result the intended beauty of sex is daily being perverted to young and old alike. 

As a mother don't leave it all to your daughter's school to do the 'educating' in this important area of life.  (If you need reasons why, read my last post, on Modesty WEEK 24  QUOTE 24)

I am personally not incredibly gifted in mathematics, so I would never attempt to educate my daughter in maths without buying a math textbook I felt would equip me to do the task. The same with talking with my daughter about sex.

Here's some suggestions ~
"The Story of Me" : Stan and Brenna Jones
"Before I was Born" : Carolyn Nystrom
"What's the Big Deal" : Stan and Brenna Jones
"Facing the Facts" : Stan and Brenna Jones
All of the books in the ATTITUDE series are great.
   "Sex with Attitude, A Relationship Handbook"
   "Hardwired, A Handbook for Growing, Inhaling and Injecting Life"
   "Attitude, A Handbook for Your Head"
The book "Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children About Sex and Character" :Pepper Schwartz and Dominic Cappella, seems to be an extremely useful and popular book. It asks parents to identify their own values and views on religion and ethics and then assists you to teach these in the context of sex education with your children.

Whatever you do,  DON'T neglect being personally involved in this part of your daughter's life - she needs you there with her. The intimacy and closeness of the subject requires a mum to be prepared to lovingly discuss it with honesty and openness.  In the future both you and she will be grateful for the time you invested.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  teach your daughter a new home skill while chatting about dad in a positive way, and if age appropriate you could talk about sex, too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


"Female modesty is not some artificial way of  'dampening down one's allure',  nor is it ..... a mere distaste for  'skimpy swimming suits'.  It's much richer than that. Modesty is a reflex, arising naturally to help a woman protect her hopes and guide their fulfillment - specifically this hope of one man ..... Of course, along with this hope comes a certain vulnerability, because every time a man fails to stick by us, our hopes are, in a sense, dashed. This is where modesty fits in. For modesty armed this special vulnerability - not to oppress women, but with the aim of putting them on an equal footing with men. The delay modesty created, not only made it more likely that women could select men who would stick by them, but in turning lust into love, it changed men from uncivilized males who ran after as many sexual partners as they can get, to men who really wanted to stick by one woman."
Wendy Shalit : "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue"
I highly recommend reading Wendy Shalit's "wise, fresh and funny" book.


Today modesty is definitely a word and practice that is out-of-fashion, in fact so OUT that most people hardly know what it is.

* Being shy and quiet.
* Covering up parts of the female body to prevent being embarrassed.
* Feeling uncomfortable from having no personal privacy.
* A style of behaviour and living seen in women in the Austin, Bronte and Trollope nineteenth 
       century dramas.
* "A kind of armour of hope."
* A frame of reference from which men accept and respect a women's "no".
* Protecting one's innocence.

How have we come to be where we are now, not just ignorant of what a word means, but ignorant of a part of our female nature? Our ignorance is so great that we have swapped the truth for a lie, so to speak, and accepted ~
     ~ the loss of going steady
    ~ the loss of personal dignity and embarrassment
     ~ the damage to the mindset of children toward sex and one another
    ~ the  'celebrate our body'  attitude of secondary schools and universities
     ~ the avalanche of  'victim'  letters of insecurity that fill glossy female magazines
   ~ "agreeing that women are sexual objects, nothing more, and exist only to gratify men"
    ~  accepting light court sentencing for rape offenders
   ~ "that virginity is something to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better and experience is what is  
            to  be valued

We have allowed this for the sake of being thought of as ~    "Independent",            "non sexist",               not sexually repressed,    "tough - just like men",           being "a bad girl" as evidence of maturity,
   having "life experience",        thinking "sex is no big deal",         "getting right to the point".

So many girls  no longer think of themselves as having value, rather they see all that along with shyness and embarrassment as irrelevant. What they think IS relevant is to be "mature", by making advances to boys, to "sleep around just like men do"  and to "get the experience"!

"Many children these days know far too much too soon, and as a result they end up in some fundamental way, not knowing - stunted and cut off from all that could be. If you are not taught that you really want 'just sex', you end up seeking much more.. The peculiar way our culture tries to prevent young women from seeking more than 'just sex', the way it attempts to rid us of our romantic hopes or ..... our embarrassment and our 'hang ups',  is a very misguided effort. It is no less than an attempt to cure womanhood itself, and in many cases it has actually put us in danger."

So are girls doomed to a future of thinking of themselves and behaving as an object? Certainly not.  A mother can impact how her daughter can precede in this area.

Girls and women have been confused by society and sex education, so mothers need to clearly counter this philosophy.
1. We first must give girls an honest view (such as presented in Wendy Shalit's book) about the culture they live in - the cons and arguments they may be tempted by, the pressure from boys to oblige them, the pressure to be cool, the lengths or amount of alcohol needed to "numb ourselves to go through with it", where this lifestyle leads, and what this lifestyle says of the value of women.

2. Our girls need to understand there is a difference between the sexual areas of their body (which are private and not to be touched or shared with others ) and other areas of the body. To have a healthy respect for their body and pride in protecting themselves.

3. We need to encourage our daughters to listen to their conscience of self and feelings of fear, to be aware of thoughts, feelings and reactions of embarrassment. 
EG.  ~ trying to cover their breasts with their arms when wearing a tight top or top with exposed cleavage when in particular company.
        ~ regularly and repeatedly needing reassurance that they "look OK".
        ~ their over rowdy behaviour receiving unwanted attention from boys.
        ~ clutching the edges of a slit skirt together on a windy day in a public place.
These are internal signs (all part of modesty) speaking to us that we are near a personal boundary, feel awkward,  and may need to reassess what we are doing. 

4. Wendy Shalit puts this point bluntly - that if young women look like a hooker, they will be thought to be one, and attract the appropriate wrong kind of men.  Repeat conversations of the first point so the consequences of this, are fully understood.

5.  We need to explain the 'misunderstanding' or the lie that so many girls have, that to sleep with a boy will solidify the relationship. The problem is that this is not how the boy sees it.  Or of living with a man in the hope of marriage.

6.  Daughters need 'open eyes' to not fall for or be conned along by the explanation of  "how it is" by the glossy magazines, the music videos, movies, word on the street, and sex education manuals. Again a repeat visit in conversation to the first point is needed.

7.  Mums have responsibility to support the romantic longings and hopes of young girls as being a natural, normal part of being female. DON'T ignore or suppress these longings as it will only send them along the route of the glossy magazine or sexually explicit novel and onto the freeway of objectivity.  This harbours more confusion in the mind of a growing girl. Instead give her examples of lives of women with wholesome romantic dignity, who are respected by men, viewed as women and not as objects, to develop her ideas on.

8.  We need to check ourselves that we are not affected by our society either in our attitudes to women or our practice. If you are a mother involved in the style of relationship described above, think hard. Consider your example, to other women, to your children especially your daughter, regardless of her age, she is learning from you. Are you being valued in the way you live? What are you saying about the worth of a woman? 

9.  As mothers, do we believe in female innocence? Do we think of our daughters as being in a time of innocence which is worth protecting from our culture's brutality? Then we have work to do.

"Understanding modesty .... invites men to consider, What's fun about forcing someone into sex in the first place? A respect for female modesty would inform the relation between the sexes so that "taking what you can get" would be an impossible way for a man to approach a woman, or to approach love generally.  The argument from external authority labels a man as evil if he date-rapes or sexually harasses a woman. From the standpoint of modesty, he is behaving abominably, but more crucially, he is really missing the point . He hasn't understood what it means to be a man."
"..... there is an emerging consensus that things have gone too far."
"There is simply nowhere else to go in the direction of immodesty, only back"

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS spend some time thinking and talking about modesty with YOUR daughter.