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Thu, 05 Dec 2002

I've not been very active here for a number of reasons but the main two are the recent deaths in the family and my lousy health.  As everyone else seems to be determined to live a bit longer and my coughs double me over only every other time now, I think I'll try to do something to get me back into blogging mode.  I'm trying to straighten out the time stamping on the comments.

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:18

Tue, 10 Dec 2002

I had a very interesting conversation with Jonathan (my eight year old) at dinner last night.  One of the kids was asking, yet again, for something terribly expensive for Christmas.  Saturday, Jonathan had asked Santa for a laptop.  Poor Santa Claus had no idea what to say.  I smoothed it over by informing Jona that Santa's elves only deal in toys and clothes and not computer hardware.  I'm sure that will get me in trouble at some point but that's life.

Anyway, as I said an expensive gift item for Christmas came up at dinner.  What it was, I don't remember but it was quite pricey.  Shanna explained that the gift would not be coming because it's too expensive.  Jona piped up and said that it was because we're still poor.  Shan explained that we're not poor.  I decided to ignore the poor/not poor issue and tackle something that's a bit larger and more important:  Why we live the way we do.  I told the kids that there is a very easy way for us to have all kinds of extra money that we can just blow on whatever we wanted.  Their ears seemed to go up a bit at this.  I went on to explain that we would just make Shanna go out and start working.  I told them that this would mean that she would not be home during the day and probably wouldn't come home until about the same time that I do.  Suddenly the idea didn't sound quite so good.  McKenna asked if that would mean that they would have to stay home alone all day.  When I said that it meant that they would have to stay with a sitter, she seemed a bit excited again until I reminded her that she would not be home to play with her friends except on the weekends.  The excitement continued to drain away as I pointed out that they wouldn't come home after school because she wouldn't be there or that they wouldn't be able to just run up to her and talk with her.  I then asked them if we should make her go to work or not.  While George was all for it (naturally, what three year old is going to let anything stand in the way of what he wants?), Jona and McKenna were quite adamant that Shanna stay at home.

Shanna told the kids how much she loves being a mom.  I told them how very important it is to me that my children have a mother that recognizes the great dignity of that title and that loves her children like Shanna does.  I also said that they make life difficult for us by always asking for more and more things that are more and more expensive.  We have food enough to eat, clothes to wear, a wonderful house we call home and we've never gone lacking.

If I wanted to avoid controversy and didn't want to risk losing a reader or two, I would leave off right there but I'm not.  Have you ever heard the statement that a family can't survive on one income alone anymore?  So have I and it's dead wrong.  I have a wife and three (soon to be four) children, a mortgage, two car payments and all the other usual bills and yet I am the sole bread winner and I only work one job.  No, my job doesn't pay me a huge sum of money by US standards, well under $45,000 per year, and we have had our share of financial trials.  Those trials, however, have not come from a lack of income but from mismanagement of that income.  It's my responsibility to provide for my family and see that all their needs are met.  If, being an able bodied man, I did not do this; I would see myself as a scoundrel and a blight on my family's good name.

Thankfully, I don't have to do all this alone.  There is a great deal of management work required to teach a child how to grow into an upstanding adult.  Because I have to focus on providing the materials for our family to survive, I have to trust someone else to manage those materials and to teach my children.  That someone is my wonderful wife.  Together we manage my income.  Together we teach our children what is right and what is wrong.  Yet to whom do they run when they want comfort?  Who do they see as providing a wonderful home that is full of happiness and cheer?  It is Shanna of course and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I could claim that the house and everything we own is mine but I could never lay claim to our home and all it contains.  Those are definitely Shanna's and I am but an honored guest in her home.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Please understand that I do not know your individual situation and would not presume to judge your situation by these standards.  I would, however, ask that you consider this question:  Does the career make the man?  If so, then society is correct and every mother should be encouraged to find a fulfilling career.  If not, then society is wrong and fathers should be encouraged to spend more time with their families.  A career is simply the daily tasks we are each called upon to perform in order to care for our families; realize this and brain surgery becomes as noble as folding clothes.  If it is not a career that makes a man, then what is it?  It is the family.  It is the family that makes the man and the sooner we remember that as a society, the sooner we will begin to repair the damage we have done to our children by neglecting them in favor of having things and going places and doing stuff.  The sooner we will begin to respect and honor and covet the marvelous titles of father and mother and of husband and wife.

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:00

I should add here that more than just last night's conversation brought about today's entry.  A while back I watched a daytime talk show (Oprah) about working mothers.  The reasons listed were:  I work because my mom did.  I work because my husband says it's the only way we can get ahead.  I work because we want to enjoy the finer things in life.  The three women (three sisters) whose mother worked and whose mother had inspired them to work said on the air that if she had it to do over again, she would not have ever worked.  The three sisters were pretty much speechless at that.

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:49

Wed, 11 Dec 2002

Amy at Rhapsody in Blog posted about a couple of articles she found online.  One talks about binge drinking and a correlation between sports fans and non-sports fans.  What I really found interesting was this statement from Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute:

The scientific evidence says advertising doesn't cause people who don't drink to drink, he said.  It doesn't cause people who drink to drink more.

If the advertising isn't causing people to drink more and it's not winning new customers, then exactly why are they even paying for advertising?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Watch this space later today for my take on brow beating.  Trust me, it ain't what you'd think.

This entry authored by Tyran at 07:01

Brow Beaters, Part I

I've had a number of discussions about this and there have been a couple of articles dealing with this issue lately.  What is the issue?  Brow Beaters, at least that's what I'm calling it.  Imagine, if you will, that behind each of your eye brows lies a gland.  Imagine further that this gland secretes a small amount of a powerful endorphin when it comes under external pressure.  Like all pain killers, this endorphin is quite addictive but it has the advantage of leaving a person quite lucid.  On the other hand, in order exert enough pressure on these little glands, a one has to basically pound on one's eye brows.  Far fetched?  Quite but I do have a reason for dreaming up such a strange reality.

For centuries, people have discouraged their children from mashing their faces into things just for a brief euphoric rush.  Instead they have been encouraged to only use their eye brows under very controlled circumstances.  The thinking being that children's personalities are not developed enough to compensate for the addictive nature of the endorphins and they'll end up slaves to their brows:  Brow Beaters.  Brow Beaters had, for centuries, been labeled as somewhat dumber than the general population as well – likely because of bruised brains from mashing things into their heads.  Current thinking is beginning to change radically and there is research to back up that change:  Labels are bad, Brow Beaters are people too, it's a natural way to deal with stress so we should even encourage it and so forth.  With this change in perspective comes an increase in the number of adolescent Brow Beaters and a drop in test scores at school but, of course, they have nothing to do with each other at all.

Now, given this hideously unlikely scenario, ask yourself this question:  Do you stick with tradition, at the risk of being known as a social prude, because you recognize a fundamental difference between your abilities and those of your children to deal with a given situation like brow beating or do you go with the current research and encourage your kids to discover life for themselves trusting that everything will be OK in the end?

With that in mind, tune in tomorrow to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat and make this horrendous farce of a situation actually relate to something facing us today.

This entry authored by Tyran at 20:58

Thu, 12 Dec 2002

Brow Beaters, Part II

So, exactly where am I going with this?  That's a question that a couple of people have put to me today.  Looking at the scenario I created yesterday, it's fairly obvious that most people would decide to be prudes.  The problem with that assumption is that we can look at the situation from the outside and so can easily recognize that adolescent brow beating has detrimental side effects.  If, however, we lived in this odd reality, would we be able to see this correlation or would our own brow beating lead us to rationalize the situation?

Tradition tends to teach that self-denial is beneficial be it fasting, sobriety, chastity, fidelity or a host of other things.  Societal pressures pull us the other way:  Charge it, try it, indulge yourself, skin is in, the sky's the limit, more is better and so forth ad infinitum.  One area where this is very evident is sexuality, our version of brow beating.  The flood of chemicals that rushes through the human body as a result of sexual activity – not just intercourse but any activity that we individually interpret as sexual – is truly astounding.  For one thing, the psychological effect of those chemicals depends greatly on the emotions attached to sexuality and not on the chemicals themselves.  For most of us that means euphoria to some degree but for others, especially those who have been sexually abused in some manner, that often means anything but euphoria.  Suffice it to say that just on an individual level, sexuality is an incredibly complex issue.  Throw in the fact that sex is also a team sport (pun very much intended) and the complexity goes through the roof.

There is another aspect of sexuality which people tend to ignore out right and that is the addictive nature of it.  A couple of co-workers were discussing sexually active teenagers and the following comment was made:  Once they've had sex, it's extremely hard for them to stop, almost impossible.  Why?  Well, once a person becomes sexually active, again this is not just limited to intercourse, that person quickly develops a need, a very real need, for a certain level of sexual activity.  That sounds very much like addiction to me.  As the Robert Palmer song says, You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love.

So, exactly what is my point?  All my teenage years I wondered why there exists this double standard on sex.  Why is it OK for adults but bad for kids?  Just because I get married doesn't change the nature of sex, so why is premarital sex a no no?  Why should I adhere to these traditional values when everything around me and the urges within me all point in the opposite direction?  The only answer I could ever find was that my parents and God said so, but why?  Finally, I have an answer that I could have really used as a teenager to help me hold closer to the values I wanted to follow:  Without the discipline that abstinence brings, the force of a person's own sexuality can easily overpower and enslave that person to where they are reduced to scrounging for their next quick fix.  I've seen it happen and the fact that porn is the most profitable product on the Internet is yet another symptom of that fact.  On the other hand, having that discipline and sharing it with a spouse allows the two to emotionally bind themselves together completely and such a relationship can withstand the roughest of roads.  (Yes, I know there's more to making a good marriage than that but that's not the point.)

Again, the burden lies upon us as adults as parents to help our children understand this.  Current thinking says that adolescent sexuality is a good thing so long as we teach these kids about safe sex everything will be just fine but teaching abstinence is forcing traditional values on these impressionable kids and is just wrong.  Sexuality is like fire, use it wisely and with control and it will serve you well.  Treat it lightly and it will rage out of control like a wildfire and you will be burned.

This entry authored by Tyran at 21:22

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