Friday, January 30, 2009


I was in an undisclosed location the other day with three other women. Woman 1 was going on and on, rather loudly, about her ex-boyfriend and their daughter. Apparently, the father was not holding up his end of the parental bargain. She was venting about his failure to keep his committments in spending time, money, and energy parenting. And yet, he had plenty to say about the job the mother was doing. This was becoming a source of much discontent between the two. Woman 1 seemed fully aware of the detrimental effects of poor fathering on young girls and she was at her wits end about why he A) didn't simply do what he should be doing with his daughter, and B) didn't realize the horrible cycle he was setting up, possibly for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Woman 2 was on her cell phone having a woefully similar conversation about her husband and their two sons. They may be separating again. I think he's lost his job and is spiraling downward. Woman 2's assessment was that he had been a wonderful father (until now), although he was an off-and-on husband. Now, though, he was not meeting his parenting responsibilities consistently. Moreover, her conversation revealed, she had been the framer for their relationship all along. She had orchestrated his career path, cared for their children, and carried the burden of their living arrangements.

While these issues have been discussed to death lately, I rarely see discussions that address the need for young people to observe healthy couples. Without that information, choosing partners and planning a life is difficult. Is that the major issue, though? If we--communities, families, churches--stopped pretending that condoms, education, and responsibility are not important tools in the journey towards adulthood, would we make some progress? When we wish that people would "get it together", do they know what that means? So, how can either children or adults find out how to fix their personal problems unless they have a realistic standard? And, with the excess of single parent, dysfunctional families, how can most people intimately know that standard? Television isn't enough; it's manufactured and made for profit. Still, am I wrong in thinking that conflict resolution, communication, family planning, and decision making are tools that must be taught, not instinctively known?

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