Focussed on Fatherhood

Warwick Marsh has a background is in the building and construction industry both as an employer and employee, but he’s better known as a public speaker, writer, musician, minister, producer and TV director. In 1998 Warwick received the FOL Fatherhood of the Year Award and in 2001 was awarded a centenary medal by the Governor General for ‘service to musical leadership for youth and the Aboriginal community, both in Australia and internationally’.

Warwick’s a founder of the Fatherhood Foundation and I spoke to him this morning as part of my radio program on 98five.

I spoke to Warwick about the Fatherhood Foundation. I’m sure we’d all agree that there’s a very real need for good parenting but I wanted to know why he focuses specifically on the role of dads.

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How do you rate as a parent?

I was interested to read today that Australian actor Gary Sweet only rates himself a 6 out of 10 as a dad. I wonder how highly his kids would rate him. I wonder what score I’d get out of 10 if my children had to rate me.

I’d give myself a five or a six out of 10. I wish I was better.

Frank is the one I see the most of these days because he lives in Melbourne. Sophie lives in Adelaide and my two little blokes – well, they’re not so little – live in Sydney.

I try to be as good a father as I can be when I see them, but I often don’t see my younger ones as much as I’d like to. I do the best with the skills I’ve

Parenting can be a tough job. Every parent is different. Every child is different. Every circumstance we face as parents is different. Yet amongst all the variables we’re asked to bring up our kids to be fine, upstanding members of the community. The weight of expectation can be enormous.

So how do we rate ourselves? What scale do we use to judge if we’re doing alright?

I’m not sure if I’d join Sweet and give myself a 6 out of 10 for my own performance as a father, whether I’d go higher or even lower.

I suppose the first task would be to decide the criteria for judging our worthiness as parents. What kind of criteria would you use? Quality time with our children? Being there for special occasions? Providing for our kids? What do you think?

I’ve heard it said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love his wife, the mother of his children. Is that one of the things we should focus on to become better parents?

I’d love your input in the comments section of this post.

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Mother’s Day without Mum

(This post is from last Mother’s Day but it’s just as fitting today as last year.)

Dad, Mum and RodneyI’ve now seen more Mother’s Days come and go without a mum than I have with a mother. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a sad day for me but Mother’s Day does bring moments of reflection amongst the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have.

I know that for many, who have more recently lost a mother, the pain is just a little more raw today and I do hope that if that’s the case for you, you’ll be able to recall some wonderful memories and think about the influence your mum has had on you.

I’ve shared most of the following details before but they’re what I’m thinking about this morning so I thought they were worth posting again.

On the 28th of February, 1987, my mother, Margaret Sadie Olsen, passed away at the age of 66. I was just 23 years old when mum died. When I was born my mother was 43.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last couple of decades. Mum wasn’t around to see me cycle across Australia for the first time, just 8 months after she passed away. She never lived to see me realise my childhood dream of working in radio.

By the time I met Pauline, mum had already been gone for close to 5 years. She never got to see her youngest child marry the woman he loves. Mum never got to hold Emily or James in her arms. How I wish she was still here to see our wonderful little family. I desperately wish that Emily and James could have met their Grandma Olsen and that Pauline could have spent time with her mother-in-law trying to unearth some embarrassing stories from my childhood.

Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to India, Canada or Papua New Guinea and never had to sit at home and worry when I had to evacuate from Haiti during food riots a few years ago. She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James top their classes or perform so well in so many areas of life. Mum was never very tall so Emily would already be taller than she was. Emily could have playfully leaned on her Grandma just as I used to do when I was younger.

I know that there are many significant events in the lives of my four siblings that mum has missed too. There have been highs and lows along the way but all of them would have been quite different if mum had been around to share them.

Mum’s last couple of years were spent in hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. For most of that time she was unable to communicate with us. Occasionally she was able to say a word or two but there were other signs that would show us that she knew a lot of what was going on. Mum was pretty much paralysed so even making movement to communicate was difficult.

There were several times that more bleeding in her brain would cause doctors to tell us that mum only had hours or maybe days to live. We would all begin to grieve our loss only to find the days turning into weeks or months until there was another medical setback and the whole process would begin again. You can imagine the kind of emotional toll that took on each of us.

When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. Relief that she didn’t have to suffer any longer, joy that she was now enjoying paradise but still the immense sadness of losing someone I loved so very, very much.

I know that the person I am today is very much a product of who mum was. I value the influence she was and continues to be in my life.

The photo in this post shows me a little younger than I am today with both my parents. You can click the picture for a closer look. Dad passed away over 9 and a half years ago, just days before his 83rd birthday.

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Put Yourself in the Picture

We’ve finally made it to December. It’s the month when we celebrate the birth of Jesus by getting our photo taken sitting on the knee of some big, bearded guy in a red suit.

Hang on … that doesn’t make sense.

If you want a family photo that is a little more connected to the real meaning of Christmas, you’re invited to a Family Fun Day this Saturday at Thornlie Church of Christ. (Sorry for those not in the Perth area.)

You can take part in a Nativity Photo Shoot. Maybe you just want a photo of your children in a stable scene or maybe you want the whole family to get involved. It’s your choice.

You don’t have to book, just turn up between 10:00 and 2:00 this Saturday. Magnificent costumes, props and professional photographers are all provided. Photo prints and CDs of your pictures are available to buy at very reasonable prices.

There’ll also be free kids crafts, a free gift pack, a sausage sizzle and a Café serving light lunches, cakes and drinks, all at reasonable prices with proceeds going to help others in the community.

Our family has taken part for the last couple of years and it’s a lot of fun.

See you there this Saturday.

Thornlie Church of Christ is at 319 Spencer Road, Thornlie.

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We’re Counting On You

Tomorrow night is census night here in Australia. Once every five years the Australian government gathers information on the Aussie population. It’s kind of a stock take on all the people in the country. It helps them plan for the future and just gives us an indication of who we are as Australians.

It’ll be the first time that we can fill out our census information online.

I wonder how much has changed for your household since the last census five years ago. I imagine there’ll some happy changes and some not so happy.

We’ll have the same number of people in our household but we’ll be in a different area. We moved house almost exactly two years ago.

What’s been the biggest change for you in the last five years? Whether you’re in Australia or not, I’d be interested in seeing what the big changes have been for you over the last five years.

Filling out the census form might not be everyone’s idea of fun but it beats the alternative of getting all Australians to stand together in one place once every five years to be counted. Can you imagine it? Three million four hundred and forty two, three million four hundred and forty three, three million four hudred and … hang on …. someone moved. We’re going to have to start again. One, two, three, four, five, six ….

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