Yesterday was Pioneer Day, commemorating the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. It's celebrated by Utahns and Mormons the world over - the youth in our stake are off on a three-day mini-reenactment of a handcart trek this weekend - as a way to recognize the courage and fortitude of our pioneer ancestors, of both the genetic and spiritual kind.
On that theme, I love this poem by Carol Lynn Pearson:
"Where truth flies you follow
If you're a pioneer."
A couple of months ago I sat in a meeting with several youth and youth leaders as we discussed the upcoming meeting schedule. I pointed out that if we followed our regular plan it would require meeting on Father's Day, and as we had recently adjusted the schedule to allow families to be together on Mother's Day, I thought it right and fair to do the same on the day set aside to honor male parental units as well.
I was surprised and rather disappointed when that logic didn't seem obvious to all.
And then there's that ad for Thai life insurance making the rounds where the mom is out grocery shopping and the dad is home with the baby and the baby starts fussing, so Dad panics and calls Mom and she tries to calm the baby down via FaceTime. It doesn't work and baby is getting more worked up when Dad has a brilliant, brave idea. He puts the phone down and - get this - picks the baby up! (I know, crazy, huh?) Baby stops cries, starts smiling at Dad and everyone is soooooo touched that Dad would pick up his own child.
Perhaps I'm being culturally obtuse, but I didn't get all teary-eyed. I got pissed. Your baby cries, you pick him/her up. And you shouldn't wait until the child is three months old (or so) to do that for the first time. I mean, yay for the dad in the commercial for taking that step, but why do we (society, media, pop culture, fill-in-the-blank) depict fathers as inept, incapable, clueless parents and get so impressed when a dad actually does some very standard parenting task?
Yes, fathers are important, and yes, they are capable of childcare. No, they are not less important or less capable than mothers. And science agrees with me. So there.
A couple takeaways from the linked article:
"In the course of his research, Rohner made the startling discovery that a father's love often contributes to a child's personality development more than that of a mother. Specifically, a father's rejection can cause a child to develop behavioral problems, and the resulting feelings of insecurity, anxiety and hostility can lead, eventually, to drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. Rejection by a father can also hinder a child's long-term ability to form trusting relationships."
"Spending time with Dad can improve a child’s ability to connect with others in a positive way. Richard Koestner, a psychologist at McGill University, studied the results of longitudinal research conducted at Yale University in the 1950s and concluded that the less time a father spent with a child, the less the child was able to feel empathy."
Of course, we can't give mothers short shrift either, so take a look at these recently rediscovered photos of mothers and children from around the world fifty years ago.
I love 10, 16, 19, 21, 31...the pictures capture such real moments in loving parent-child relationships!
And then these pictures of children across the globe doing what children do so well: playing.
We recently visited the High Desert Museum near Bend, Oregon, (really a great museum all the way around!) and the kids enjoyed the 1904 Miller Ranch and Sawmill, complete with live interpreters. They showed the kids how to water the garden with watering cans, wash clothes with a washboard and manual agitator, and keep food cool in a root cellar. They also had the chance to play with toys that children in rural Oregon in 1904 would have played with, like these hoops and sticks:
I was struck by the similarity to these children in Burkina Faso, and this boy in India. All of these pictures made me smile, but particularly this child fishing in Russia (with his pet lynx/bobcat) and these boys fishing in Thailand. And this joyous football game in Ghana.
Oh, just check them all out!