A Belated Mother’s Day Reflection by a Firstborn Child and a Son

So, I phoned my mom yesterday, which by my own laborious calendrical calculations happened to be Mother’s Day. Good timing on my part, I think. I am both the firstborn of her three children, and her only son. Yes, the psychoanalysis just jumps out doesn’t it? I can see the nodding heads and set mouths, “Ah, yes, it all fits into place now.” But yes, it’s true. Our relationship has had its, um, phases. Of course, it’s all my fault.

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Fathers are Irreplacable

A nice recent (2006) study on the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, and especially the father-daughter relationship.

From section 2.3 of the study (footnotes not referenced here):

Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.13 Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.18

The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.19 Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.20

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior.21 This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem.22 In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.23

In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children’s development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.

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Happy Sixth Birthday to Our Little Girl, Sofie!

Born at 18:40 on this day in 2003. One of the loves of my life.

As I’ve related before: An answer to the prayers of the Theotokos for us. On retreat 11-13 October 2002, at a Benedictine monastery, I prayed the Akathist Hymn and asked for Mary’s intercessions for us. Seven weeks later we found out we were pregnant. Then, to put her seal on the matter, Sofie was born the evening before (liturgically, the feast of) Our Lady’s Dormition.

Our Lady has watched over us all this time, including saving Anna’s life when she had her miscarriage. I cannot look at our daugther, Sofie, and not be aware of the Theotokos’ watchcare over us.

Wow. Six years.

[The pic, by the way, is of Sofie at one year old. Again: wow.]

Naming the Child

Having had some experience, as a father, of the miscarriage of our unborn child, Sam, I was quite moved by the Ancient Faith Radio interview with Matushka Jenny Schroedel about her new book, Naming the Child. (The book can be ordered through Amazon.com.)

The AFR interview

There is also a website set up where parents of stillborn infants, miscarried unborn children, infants who have died, and others can go to explore resources concerning their grief and to share their experiences in words and poems. It is an amazing site, and I urge you to visit it:

Naming the Child.

St John Chyrsostom on Ephesians 5 (On Marriage)

Sts Joachim and Anna with the Most Blessed Theotokos
Sts Joachim and Anna with the Most Blessed Theotokos

Some excerpts:

And indeed from the beginning, God appears to have made special provision for this union; and discoursing of the twain as one, He said thus, “Male and female created He them” (Gen. i. 27.) . . . For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be. . . . For indeed, in very deed, this love is more despotic than any despotism: for others indeed may be strong, but this passion is not only strong, but unfading. For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours. Thus even from the very beginning woman sprang from man, and afterwards from man and woman sprang both man and woman.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church.” Thou hast heard how great the submission; thou hast extolled and marvelled at Paul, how, like an admirable and spiritual man, he welds together our whole life. Thou didst well. But now hear what he also requires at thy hands; for again he employs the same example. “Husbands,” saith he, “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church.” . . . Take then thyself the same provident care for her, as Christ takes for the Church. Yea, even if it shall be needful for thee to give thy life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever,—refuse it not. Though thou shouldest undergo all this, yet wilt thou not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom thou art already knit . . . .
Seek thou for beauty of soul. Imitate the Bridegroom of the Church. . . . Let us wipe off the “spot” that is within, let us smooth the “wrinkles” that are within, let us do away the “blemishes” that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires.

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