Monday, June 16, 2008

Spouse, father or both?

I found Sunday's sermon by Mr. Obama about fatherhood rather interesting, and lacking in one very important respect. He talked at length about being there to raise your child, but conveniently left out the importance of being a good spouse or partner.

Obama's three-point plan to being a better father includes:
1. Setting high expectations.
2. Passing along empathy.
3. Then, of course, instilling hope.
And he concludes, “Because if fathers are doing their part, if they’re taking our responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway."

So what's missing in Obama's mind? Cities need more police, “fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” more money for schools, better teachers, more after-school programs and more jobs and job training, he says.

All things that take money ... your money, my money ... and have ultimately failed over the years. The solutions that cost nothing are the hardest to talk about and will never come from our government, which has the very co-dependant notion that if there's a problem, they are obligated to solve it.

Mr. Obama makes good points, but he's putting the cart before the horse. How about being there for the mother of your child? How about setting high expectations for yourself that include not only jobs and college degrees, but also a willingness to do the hard work of getting along with the mother of your child? How about showing empathy for the mother of your child, not just everyone else around you?

Sadly, none of Mr. Obama's "solutions" will make a bit of difference until the people raising children - men and men, women and women, men and women, whoever - learn to get along, build strong relationships, model loving behavior, show their kids how to sacrifice and cooperate. The primary relationship in a family is not between parent and child, but between spouses or partners, I was once told. A kids-come-first relationship is not healthy for the child and certainly can't help a marriage. If I my son learns nothing else, he will know that his father and I loved each other and showed him daily how to cooperate, share, listen, speak, show respect, sacrifice and much more. Our hope is that he learns how to treat others and his future family by watching us.

And there's not a government program in the world that will accomplish that.


Anonymous said...

our sermon yesterday was on just what you talked about: spouse before kids. the best way to be a good father is loving their mother.--Kelley

maryellenlewis said...

I totally agree.