Welcoming Syrian refugees: with or without the niqab

54ff0df26

Our Syrian friends will soon be with us.  Groups all over the country are working hard to sponsor a refugee family and I am part of one.

I am looking forward to meeting “our” family and helping them to settle in Canada. But that means that I must, and all Canadians must, put aside whatever concerns they may have about the newest members of our family and welcome them with open arms.

In Canada, we recently had a debate about wearing the niqab in citizenship courts and no doubt some of the refugees coming to Canada will be wearing one.  Eighty two percent of Canadians disagree with allowing the niqab to be worn while taking the citizenship oath.

Read More

Advertisements

Former NHL Player Patrick O’Sullivan suffered from his abusive father

Edmonton+Oilers+v+Toronto+Maple+Leafs+ULwXpf2B1N2l

The most heart-rending interview showing how badly parenting can go wrong when parents live vicariously through their children was aired on CBC’s “The Current” yesterday.

Former NHL hockey player Patrick O’Sullivan was emotionally and physically abused at the hands of his father, a would-be hockey player who never fulfilled his dreams.  Patrick O’Sullivan told how his father John would return home late at night after a few drinks, wake up the sleeping boy and force him to exercise for hours to improve his hockey.  He made the young Patrick run home in his hockey gear after practice, no matter what the time or weather. He beat him, kicked him and called him names. Read More

Should governments and parents of hostages pay ransom to terrorist groups?

New YorkerWhile most of us sat numbly in our living rooms watching the news about the beheading of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, their parents and parents of three other adult children taken hostage by terrorist groups in Syria had been working behind the scenes to ensure the release of their children. They had limited support from the American government.

Only one, Theo Padnos, was saved. The other four, including James and Steven and Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller were killed.

The July issue of the New Yorker reports on this sad story.  The parents were brought together by media mogul David Bradley, who was committed to helping free the hostages, after he helped free one of his freelance writers who had been taken hostage in the middle east.  The American government had little involvement in solving that case and Bradley realized that the parents of these other five hostages would need help to obtain the freedom of their children. Bradley provided financial resources, contacts and skills.

Read More

Living with your in-laws: a growing trend

My Grandma or Mrs. Milligan to my Father

My Grandma or Mrs. Milligan to my Father

I grew up living with a grandmother in the house.

While it is not everyone’s idea of a good time to live with their parents or parents-in-law, it worked for my family.

My mom adored her quiet and undemanding mother. My father, who called her Mrs. Milligan all her life, took her in without complaint. Because of my father’s kindness to her mother, my mom called my dad “a prince among men” and had that nomer etched on his gravestone.  My father understood my grandmother’s situation because his own mother, my Nana, had similar limited means.  She lived with her daughter, my dad’s sister, and her husband.

Circumstances did not lead me to repeat that experience and I am not sure I would have been able to.  My mother and I would have been two clashing Alpha females and my mother-in-law was able to live on her own until she died.

But this generation is looking back in time for models for family living today. Young married couples are living with their parents and there are more multigenerational families than 30 years ago. The reasons vary–it could be to have help with the children, to afford a house or to offer help to an aging parent. But one thing is sure: it is a growing trend.

Read More

Omar Khadr: It’s our turn to step up to the plate

kort-nwe-logo-omar-15-22-271

Ever since Mother’s Day and with Father’s Day just around the corner, I can’t stop thinking about how Omar Khadr’s parents failed him, how the Canadian government failed him, how Dennis Edney stepped up to the plate and how the rest of us need to do the same.

I have a son about the same age and it pains me to think how he would withstand such an ordeal.

By now, most of us know the sad story of Omar Khadr.

His parents turned him into a child soldier, moved him to Afghanistan, where in 2002 at the age of 15, he threw a hand grenade during a firefight that possibly killed an American soldier. He was caught and sent to Guantanamo Bay, a detention camp in Cuba. He was imprisoned, isolated, starved, sleep-deprived, water boarded, threatened with rape and hung up by his arms by U.S. government agents.

In 2010, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to war crimes, allowing him the possibility of being transferred to Canada where he would serve most of his eight year sentence.  He later said he pleaded guilty to get out of Guantanamo Bay. He was advised that if he did not plead guilty he could spend the rest of his life there.

In 2012, Omar Khadr returned to Canada. He was placed first in a maximum-security prison and then in a medium-security prison in 2014.  He was released on bail in May, 2015.

No-one could argue that Omar Khadr’s parents were fit to parent a young teenager. They and their terrorist associates used him as a spy and a translator and ultimately in armed conflict.

Given the lack of proper parental care, Ottawa should have stepped up to the plate. Read More

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I am thankful I have lots to be happy about and here is why:

1. My heart sings each time I see one of my three kids.

2. I have two wonderful sons-in-law, who also make my heart sing.

3. All three kids and kids-in-law live in the same city I do.

4. All five are thoughtful and concerned citizens of Canada and the world.

5.  They have a father/ father-in-law who cares about their well-being.

6. I see them regularly, but we don’t sit in each others’ pockets.

7. They still come to me for advice, even if they don’t take it.

8. All of them are the longest blooming flowers I have ever seen.  Watching them change and grow is like magic before my very eyes.

9.  They keep teaching me about the world.

10.  They keep teaching me about myself, especially how much I can love.

Read More

Advice for young job hunters

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Today’s Globe and Mail has an excellent insert for Gen Y.  You may be interested in discreetly leaving it on the kitchen table for your 20 something young adult or (not so discreetly) forwarding them the links to the online version.

Canada’s Top Employers for Young People lists 90 companies that share a commitment to helping young people transition into the working world.

Yesterday, Victoria Hoffman wrote about job hunting and the need for young people to network. Another useful resource for your young person.

Our kids may not take our advice, but they may absorb something they read.  Good luck to you and to them!  Read More

Matchmaking moms know best!

For a tongue-in-cheek look at how mothers are trying to find mates for their adult children, read the New York Times article by  Risa Doherty.  The self deprecating humour is hilarious!

Of course, I never got involved in matchmaking myself. I was above that sort of thing.  A little question here and a small word of encouragement there, was all I ever did. And no-one paid any attention anyway. I resorted to talking to my friends about when and if my children would find a partner.  Now that two are married, the heat is off the third.  At least, for the moment.

Read More

International Women’s Day: A time to act

International Women's Day 2015 Theme

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme

I am ashamed to admit that I almost forgot that International Women’s Day is March 8 until I received an e-mail from Match, a Canadian organization dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women  around the world.

No parent can afford to forget IWD or the struggles it represents, if we want equality for our girls and boys.

Not so long ago my mother was considered by law incapable of deciding whether a medical operation would be in the best interests of her children. In 1950’s Quebec, where I grew up, the law required the signature of my father, who while a lovely man, was not an involved dad and would have known far less than my mother, a former nurse, about any health concerns his kids might have had. It was not until 1964 that Quebec wives could conduct themselves independently in legal or financial matters without authorization from their husbands.

My mother was married under a regime known as “separate as to property”.  That meant she had control over what she owned. But that was useless for a stay-at-home mom, who owned only the things she brought into the marriage: some silverware, dishes and bed sheets. She was totally dependent upon the good will of my father.

My mother once gave a speech at the local Toastmistress organization on how Quebec legislation discriminated against women.   She came home fiercely angry when the male adjudicator gave her poor marks, which she was convinced were in retaliation to what she said. She raged against her status in the 1950’s before the 1960’s wave of feminism became the rage.

My grandmother’s situation was worse. Read More