Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A thought for Fathers

We are reminded daily of the need for fatherhood in our society by the headlines that frequent our daily newspapers.  Headlines ranging from "Deadly night in Chicago- 14 shot, five killed" or "Five men charged with brutal rape of 14 year old girl" or even "Newtown shooter shoots mother and 26 more".  While dramatic, they do illustrate the need for Fathers        Being present in their children's lives. 

When I look back at the blessings of not only having had a great Dad and role model, but also having had my Grandfather and Uncles to lean back on- it really highlights how far our society seems to have changed.  We live in this hyper connected, self-absorbed world where one day leads into another and it seems so hard to stop and catch a breath for at least a moment.   It seems so easy to pull back and worry about one's self or the " things that matter most" - but in the end are we? 

If all we do is worry about what corresponds to us, how far have we really come?  I remember the days when families and neighbors all looked out for one another's kids.  I harken back to my days on Dobson street in Cottage Grove heights.  The community of middle-class families that all worked hard and wanted the same- a better life for their children.   "Better" ,meant different things to some .  Those who had migrated to Chicago from Southern states of Alabama or Mississippi to seek a better life in the well paying manufacturing jobs of the Midwest.  Perhaps they left family members behind in countries like Poland, Mexico or Ireland for the dirty steel mills of Chicago.   They brought with them their old world values of work ethic, personal responsibility,  Family first, and faith. 

It mattered not where you came from- rather what you made of yourself in this new country.   Fathers were the ones that served as the balance in the household.  I saw it growing up. 

As our communities have marginalized fatherhood- we have now started to see the impact across various cross sections of American Culture.  It didn't just happen overnight, it's crept up over a few decades.  The increase numbers of divorce, high percentage of children born out of wedlock,deadbeat dads, rise of single parent households.  The symptoms are everywhere.  All the while- society weeps at the outcome.   Increase in gang recruitment in cities like Chicago, increase in poverty among single parent households- while not solely attributable to the lack of presence of fathers- it makes you wonder.   

Friday, November 15, 2013

A moment of pause for the direction in which we are heading.

I relish my drive time to school every morning.  It's tough at times because it often comes in the midst of the 'morning shuffle'- parents know what I'm talking about- My wife wakes our two girls up; manages their getting dressed; as all three come downstairs to my breakfast set-up, lunch pack and we all hustle out the door in an effort to make it to school- safe & sound.  Working parents know this routine all too well and everyone manages it differently, but that is how it goes in the Sandoval house.  

Once we get in the car, I have to force myself to take a deep breath and enjoy the drive to school.  It's my favorite time of the day- but I focus on staying present.  Some day, these memories are all I will have of my children when they are all grown up.  I love this time because  they are both usually at their sharpest in the morning and its real quality time where we have some of our deepest conversations in the midst of the thirty minute ride to school.

I was stopped in my tracks this week as my daughter asked me if I could take her and her girl scout unit on a camping trip.  "Daddy, can you take us?" she asked.  As I bit down hard on the response, I wanted to give (knowing way too much about the grown-up reasons why this might not be possible), I replied to her "Honey, perhaps mommy can take you- it would be great for you to be with mommy".  "But why daddy? (growing upset) I want you to take us and go with us- You are the outdoor guy- you are the scout!"  Her anxiety around the issue almost brought a tear to my eye.  As I bit back on the emotions, I replied "Sweetie, daddy's aren't allowed to participate in Girls scouts only mommies".  "Then I don't want to go Dad! I will only go if you can be part! Why can mommies be part of cub scouts and daddies, but in girl scouts only mommies?"  she wailed on the verge of tears.  "It would be a big shame if you didn't go. We know your leaders and they are good people.  We can always do our own family camping trips" I said "remember how excited you where about girl scouts?"  "Yes daddy, I remember" she whimpered.  "Then I want you to be the best girl scout - you can be.  I'll be watching and we'll be learning on the side honey" I replied. "Ok , daddy  I will.  Can you still teach me?"  she said as a smile started to creep into her teary face. " Both mommy and I will teach you- we're a family remember- we do things together" I said.

This was not how I wanted this conversation to go- but I feared this would come up some time- but not this soon!  Not at the age of seven!  My wife and I had talked through this scenario some time back.  There is countless social and psychological evidence that developing strong bonds with their fathers during the ages of birth and nine years of age is important to the self esteem and confidence of young girls.  The national girl scout movement has elected to restrict men from participating in scouting with their daughters.  Hidden behind the screen of youth protection - they have been successful in defending this as contrary as it might be to the preservation of strong families in my personal opinion.   The option for change might be to take a page out of Saul Alinsky's handbook and protest GSA, decrying their discrimination.  Perhaps I could mount a Supreme court level suit against them speaking for father's rights?  All in the name of equality!   We've seen activists mount those same tactics against the very bedrocks of American society in waging ideological warfare on religious and social institutions en route to recreating American society to their liking.   In the end, what would that accomplish?  I might weaken the very institution that could benefit my daughters development and probably (most likely) put a sizable hole in our bank account.  In the end, both would lose- our daughters and GSA.  It might make some constitutional lawyer happy should the suit win- but what would be gained? 

So the spot decision was to have her stick with it.  That's what I was taught in my years of scouting.  Finish what you started and learn from it.  Whatever it may be- learn.  I only wish the idealogues on both sides of the aisle- would listen.   We'll save that for another day.

Post script (amended 11/16/13)  :As life might have it- what do I have come up in my google feed today than this story..  Timely or a message from a greater being?   You tell me.

Wall Street Journal: O'Laughlin: When Liberal Convictions Run Into the Reality of Parenting

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Lighthearted look at the world around us: Affordable Boat Act

With all that is going on in the world- We might all be served by just getting out and boating.

Affordable Boat Act (ABA)

The U.S. government has just passed a new law called: "The affordable boat act" declaring that every citizen MUST purchase a new boat, by April 2014. These "affordable" boats will cost an average of $54,000-$155,000 each. This does not include taxes, trailers, towing fees, licensing and registration fees, fuel, docking and storage fees, maintenance or repair costs.

This law has been passed, because until now, the perception is that only wealthy and financially responsible people have been able to purchase boats. This new law ensures that every American can now have a "affordable" boat of their own, because everyone is "entitled" to a new boat. If you purchase your boat before the end of the year, you will receive 4 "free" life jackets; not including monthly usage fees.

In order to make sure everyone purchases an affordable boat, the costs of owning a boat will increase on average of 250-400% per year. This way, wealthy people will pay more for something that other people don't want or can't afford to maintain. But to be fair, people who cant afford to maintain their boat will be regularly fined and children (under the age of 26) can use their parents boats to party on until they turn 27; then must purchase their own boat.

If you already have a boat, you can keep yours (just kidding; no you can't). If you don't want or don't need a boat, you are required to buy one anyhow. If you refuse to buy one or cant afford one, you will be regularly fined $800 (in the first year; 2% of your annual gross income) until you purchase one or face imprisonment.

Failure to use the boat will also result in fines. People living in the desert; inner cities or areas with no access to lakes are not exempt. Age, motion sickness, experience, knowledge nor lack of desire are not acceptable excuses for not using your boat.

A government review board (that doesn't know the difference between the port, starboard or stern of a boat) will decide everything, including; when, where, how often and for what purposes you can use your boat along with how many people can ride your boat and determine if one is too old or healthy enough to be able to use their boat. They will also decide if your boat has out lived its usefulness or if you must purchase specific accessories,(like a $500 compass) or a newer and more expensive boat.

Those that can afford yachts will be required to do so. The government will also decide the name for each boat. Failure to comply with these rules will result in fines and possible imprisonment.

Government officials are exempt from this new law. If they want a boat, they and their families can obtain this by Federal Tax subsidy. Unions, banks and certain companies may also be granted exemption on a case by case basis.

The website should be up and running any day now ....