All posts tagged: children

I Don’t Give a Rats About the Gender Pay Gap!

I sat down to write this column about five times. First time, my son convinced me to help him build a cubby house instead – great fun! It was like an Arabian boudoir in there. Second time, my baby girl woke up from her nap, testing the strength of her lungs. They’re strong. Third time, mouths needed feeding. You get the idea. I love being a stay-at-home mum, I only wish people would believe me. Warning: rant ahead. Because stitched into every story on the gender pay gap or women’s rights is the assumption that I would prefer to be out there earning $ in the workforce, rather than colouring-in with my son or mopping the mouth of my daughter. Smart people like journalist Annabel Crabb talk about the asymmetric rate of “wife-having” while influential people like Governor Kate Warner quote statistics like this one: 60 per cent of all Australian families with children under the age of 15 had full-time working fathers, and mothers who worked part-time or not at all. Apparently just 3 …

Inaction of the Church in the Past Requires Apology, Love, Compassion Now

I am sorry. I am so desperately sorry that fellow Christians have at times misrepresented Jesus by protecting people who sexually abused children. People who should have faced immediate investigation. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is revealing a disgraceful culture of cover-ups in the Church and other institutions. The victims, often nameless to protect identity, have shared stories from many decades past with the clarity and emotional wrench as if it happened yesterday. Such is the impact of sexual abuse on a child. Confronted with such stories, I have grieved their suffering and the way my Lord Jesus has been so seriously misrepresented. Jesus was a passionate advocate for children. If you would like to know what Jesus’ thoughts are on child sex abuse, in no uncertain terms, read no further than Matthew 18:6, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the …

Indecent Exposure

Warning: this article is rated PG – not recommended for persons under the age of 15. Why? On account of the enormous, hot pink condom on display in Sydney’s Hyde Park. The 18-metre, fluoro pink sheath was lowered over the Hyde Park Obelisk as part of an advertising campaign to raise awareness of HIV prevention among gay men. As with most things 18-metres tall, hot pink in colour and erected in a public space, it was unavoidable. My gut reaction is that public spaces should be free from sexual messages. They should be places to walk with your children in the assurance that you’re not going to have to shield their eyes or broach a big topic like sex while tying up shoelaces and wiping Vegemite from mouths. The HIV prevention theme was fine – spread that message! But let’s do it in a respectful and relevant way. Queensland director of the Australian Christian Lobby Wendy Francis weathered a barrage of criticism after she publically questioned the suitability of the pink penis in the park. …

What I Wish I’d Said That Day At That Fancy Restaurant, Eating 8-Courses While in Labour…

I wish I’d done the unthinkable that day.  I wish I’d said poo to social etiquette and spoken what I desperately wanted to. Very loudly. You see, when the labour pangs began, I didn’t really believe them.  We were going out to dinner, a classy restaurant with friends – their shout.  And as the contractions came and went, I gritted my teeth and worked my way through the eight-course banquet. Finally, just after the wok-seared beef fillets with field mushrooms and before the bomb Alaska, I leaned across to my husband and said, “We need to go!” Here’s the way I wish it had unfolded:  I heaved myself to my feet, looked around the now-full restaurant and shrilled in my loudest voice, “We’re going to have our baby!” (clutching my stomach as another contraction took hold). The room first went silent, then erupted in applause as people laughed in shock and delight at our announcement. As we left, people yelled their well-wishes at us. Complete strangers shook our hands and the wait staff helped us …

Walking the Catwalk of True Beauty

A friend went to the dancing competitions recently with her three young girls in tow. She expected a chance to appreciate the talent and dedication of our city’s fledgling dancers, to ooh and aah over the costumes with her daughters and just have a fun, girly time together. She also expected to feel that old pang of connection to her childhood days when it was her up on the stage, leaping and twirling, smiling heartily in a cloud of glitter and sequins. Instead she walked away feeling cold. “How things have changed,” she said to me. “I wish I hadn’t taken my daughters to see that.” What seven or eight-year-old’s performance could evoke such a response? She described little girls dressed in costumes more suited to a gentleman’s club, gyrating like Miley with saucy moves and expressions far beyond their years. Another dad relayed how uncomfortable he felt seated in the stalls of the local theatre, waiting for his daughter to perform. He thought they’d all be wearing pretty dresses, leaping and pirouetting around the …

FREE “Relationship Vouchers”

Is your marriage on the rocks?  Are you about to get hitched?  Does your relationship have a few niggles that keep popping up?  Or do you just love a freebie?  As of tomorrow, Aussie couples can apply for $200 ‘relationship vouchers’ to subsidise counselling. You can thank Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews for the initiative, which he designed to “help couples achieve a greater degree of happiness and stability and thereby a better environment for their children.” The first 100,000 couples to apply in the $20 million trial’s first year will be able to take the voucher to an approved provider for “marriage and relationship education and counselling, including components of parenting education, conflict resolution and financial management education.” And it’s not only the married-and-resigned-to-divorce types that are eligible. These relationship spruce-up tickets are for long-time married couples, honeymooning couples, engaged couples, unmarried (and with no plans to marry) couples and same-sex couples.  Couples with kids, couples who’ve received their diamond anniversary letter from the Queen, couples who believe marriage is a trap and …

Adopting a Spirit of Adoption

What do John Lennon, Moses, Faith Hill and my Aunt Jenny have in common?  Nelson Mandela, Truman Capote, Sarah McLachlan, Steve Jobs, Edgar Allan Poe and Superman also share the commonality. They were adopted. Friday will mark one year since then Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologised for the scourge that was forced adoption.  For the victims – the mothers, fathers, children, siblings and extended family affected by the practice of forced adoption carried out in Australia from the late 1950s to the 1970s – it was a landmark day.  I hope that each anniversary brings deeper healing for these individuals, and that it opens our eyes to the ongoing issue of providing appropriate care for children. There are 13 million children around the world who are without both parents and 120 million who have just one carer who usually struggles to provide for that child (UNICEF). In Australia, 39,621 children are in out-of-home care and 18,000 are in foster care waiting for permanent care solutions.  Yet, in 2012, only 70 Australian children were adopted (Australian …

Angels Dancing in the Darkness

I was asked by The Examiner Newspaper’s editor to select a ‘favourite’ column from all that I’ve written in 2013… a very difficult undertaking!  I chose this one because it encapsulates a profound experience that mingled intense difficulty with beauty, humanity with spirituality.  The ‘bad news’ you will read of is when we had our second miscarriage in six months.  The original publication date was April 15, 2013. We found ourselves alone in a little church on Stanley’s main street a few weeks back. It had started to rain and the little weatherboard church beckoned – I love the way many of the older churches remain unlocked during the day for people seeking solace. Or shelter. It has a spectacular stained glass window of the last supper that arrests your attention as you walk in. And there was red everywhere; velvet cushions on the pews, the patterned carpet, even the light seemed tinged with red. We had just received bad news, so we parked our behinds on a pew up the back thinking we would …

Letter to the Prime Minister

26 August, 2013   Dear Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott,   In less than two weeks time one of you will be elected Prime Minister. You are educated men, determined men, thinking men. You have worked hard to reach your privileged positions and now, more than ever, your days are as long as your pressures are heavy. To the considerations of a politician in election mode, I add this letter. I will be brief. No jibes here on funding promises, policy unveilings and slur campaigns – just a memento of the strangled heartbeat at the core of community. There are two things foundational to any society: marriage and family. When these two things are crumpled and broken, split and repaired, Band-Aid slapped on top of bloodied Band-Aid, redefined, renamed and ripped open; brokenness becomes us. This is our reality. We exist in a culture that accepts brokenness as the norm. We are the broken culture. And brokenness begets brokenness. You both (appear to be) happily married. You both have (what appear to be) happy families. …

The Angel in the Church at Stanley

We found ourselves alone in a little church on Stanley’s main street a few weeks back. It had started to rain and the little weatherboard church beckoned – I love the way many of the older churches remain unlocked during the day for people seeking solace. Or shelter. It has a spectacular stained glass window of the last supper that arrests your attention as you walk in. And there was red everywhere; velvet cushions on the pews, the patterned carpet, even the light seemed tinged with red. We had just received bad news, so we parked our behinds on a pew up the back thinking we would pray. Not that God wouldn’t have heard us if we had told him our cares outside, in the open air. But the church was cosy. I told our energetic toddler to come sit beside us (he was doing laps of the aisle). “Watching?”  he said, once he had settled beside me. “What are we watching, sweetheart?”  I asked. “Lady dancing,”  he replied, with an excited note to his voice. …