Welcoming Syrian refugees: with or without the niqab

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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.

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Finding Solace Over the Rainbow

Photo by Michael Carson

Photo by Michael Carson

I can’t imagine anything more painful than the death of a child.

I recently attended the funeral of a 30-year young man. I cried for Jason, for his Mom and Dad and for the possible loss I too could experience.

I know, even as time goes on, the grief that Jason’s parents feel will always be with them.  And although I don’t know them very well—Jason’s Dad worked with my husband– and I never met Jason, in some small way, their grief has become mine and it will always be with me too.

Perhaps that’s what funerals do. They bind you to those who are grieving and in making room for them, your heart grows bigger.

It would have been hard not to let in the pain of Jason’s parents.  They told stories about Jason that made everyone laugh and even, in this saddest of moments, their joy and amazement that they could have had such a son as Jason shone through. Thus we felt their loss.

We chuckled when we learned Jason jumped out of the school window to escape class.  And again, when Jason’s Dad told us about the time he locked himself in the school principal’s office, while simultaneously locking her out. It was only after 15 minutes of coaxing from his mother that Jason deigned to open the door.  I am still wondering what consequences he endured. He must have been a handful! Read More

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

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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

How I coped with my accident-prone young drivers

photo by Michael Carson

photo by Michael Carson

Show me a young adult driver who hasn’t had a car accident and I’ll show a young adult who doesn’t drive.

While this may not be totally true, it is the rare parent who has not had to deal with at least one accident their child has had while driving the family car. I have had literally an embarrassment of riches in this department. Among them, my three children have had eight, count ’em, eight accidents.

The first time my daughter had a car accident, I was at a loss as to what to do.  She had received her license a few weeks before and she wanted to meet a friend so she could study for her final high school exams. A few hours later, we received a call from her telling us she had an accident.  I found out she and her friend were going out for ice cream (which was not part of the agreed upon route) , when she turned a corner quickly and slid off the road, wet from rain, into a yard. She narrowly missed hitting a tree which the police officer told me could have killed her or her friend.

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Missing in action: kids who fail to communicate

Blog photos message to Andrew

I recently received the following e-mail from a worried friend in Toronto.  She had no contact with her son for 36 hours after the time he was expected to be home:

Andrew is MIA for 24 hours now, went out Friday night, Mike (his Dad) talked to him last evening and Andrew said he’d be home last night.   Hasn’t shown up.  He was supposed to go back to university in Hamilton  today.  Can’t find him – left 2 messages on his cell which went right to voice-mail, sent a text, no reply.  Now I’ve messaged him and his best friend on Facebook…  I’m mean: REALLY!   I know he’s almost 26 and all, but if he’s staying at our place, shouldn’t he let us know where he is, what his plans are?  I am starting to get concerned.

 Signed,

Anxious mom of irresponsible adult child 

My response:   Read More

Ten things I wish I told my mother

Violet Milligan at 17--later my very strong mother

A photo of my mother at 17 that reveals none of her strength

 

Would’ ve, should ‘ ve, could’ ve. 

Three words that apply to at least some parts of everyone’s life.

Here are ten things I should have told my mother when I was an adult child.

1. I wish you would say you love me.  You never do, you didn’t even when I was a child. I know you love me and you will always help me but it would mean so much to hear you say it. 

2. Thank you for not being demanding in terms of my time.  I am very aware of my obligations to you and Dad and obviously you realize that. You also understand how busy I am with my job and three children and you let me manage my life without adding another layer of guilt and responsiblity. As a result, I don’t resent spending time with you.

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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.

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How to enjoy a family trip with adult kids

Snorkeling with the kids: safer than white water tubing

Snorkeling with the kids: safer than white water tubing

Holidays with adult children are a far cry from stewing over how to occupy your young children during the 10 long weeks of summer. But like all vacations with children no matter what their age, they are a live and learn experience.

As I white watered down a river in Costa Rica with my husband and adult children, our handsome muscle bound guide obviously felt the need to quell the look of terror in my eyes.

“OK Mama! Just reach out and grab my arm as you go down these shutes. I will stop your tube from turning over. ”

Like the rock climbing, perhaps I should have sat this one out.  But I managed, despite spilling into the warm water regardless of the proffered arm. I even received special consideration from the guide as he pulled my canvas tube through sections where the river was quiet while the others had to paddle on their own.

Apart from the fact that the guide kept calling me Mama, the day was a dream. If this is vacationing with my adult children, I’m all for it.

But this holiday, like others before, taught me a few things about how to vacation with adult kids.

According to local travel agents, I have made some classic mistakes. Read More

Coping with an estranged child

The light at the door Michael Carson photo

The light at the door
Michael Carson photo

“Sometimes all we can do is leave the porch light on with a key under the mat.”

That is one of the most heart-rending pieces of advice I read in a recent Huffington Post article for parents who are unwillingly estranged from their adult children.  The article includes advice from five experts on family relationships and all of them encourage parents to never stop reaching out to their child.

The article reminded me of my own experience with my parents as a young adult.  Although we were never estranged there was a period when I pulled away because I felt the disapproval  of my parents.   My youthful experiments were beyond their comprehension.  I don’t know whether they were more aghast when they learned I occasionally smoked marijuana or when my mother found my birth control pills in my purse.  I was no young teenager–I was 22 at the time and had a steady boyfriend.  Read More