‘Raising Strong Boys & Repairing Broken Men’ – God’s Men Speak

Raising Strong Boys and Repairing Broken Men is the timely theme for the June | Father’s Day Edition of Family and Faith Magazine. Shorter than the previous documentary at 22 minutes, the June edition features impactful Christian men and their testimonies of faith, fatherhood and restoration. They include: Altano Morgan, manufacturer of ICAN; Robert Dixon, Principal of Operation Restoration Christian School and Dr. Wayne Henry, Economist and Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The documentary also connects with three promising young boys – Israel Redwood, Seth Ridgard and Luke Ridgard.

In keeping with the theme, the documentary, which is sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group, provides godly advice on raising strong boys.

Principal, Robert Dixon asserts that, “Children spell love – T-I-M-E. We have to spend time with our children. For both my son and the children at school I see my life as a foundation for these students.” The young principal advances that, “For my son, yes his foundation, his identity is linked to me to who I am and to who I am in Christ but for my students who have no other foundation who probably don’t know their father, can I be that foundation for them? Can I be so secure in myself that they can build their life on who I am and what I stand for?”

For his part, Dr. Wayne Henry points to three strategies for growing strong boys. First, he says it’s important “to be present, to be alongside, to be near.” Then, “There must be instruction and advice. Solomon, he said listen to my advice son, heed my warning and you will prosper.” His third nugget of wisdom is the need to show boys lessons and principles by example. “A lot of times we are too willing to say do as I say and not as I do and there is a key of leadership that we miss where Paul says follow me as I follow Christ .We don’t invite people to follow us ..part of leadership part of mentoring is that you have to be that example …the willingness to put on display even with your mistakes and your flaws that example,” the father of 3 insists.

Manufacturer and motivational speaker, Altano Morgan adds that the key to raising a strong boy is teaching him that there is a God, a Father who loves him despite the challenges he comes across in life. “There is a father there that will take care of him. There is a father there that wants the best for him. Even as an earthy father you are not going to be there every time to guide him and to teach him and all the different things but when you tell him about the Father up above who is looking down with his tender love, showing you, guiding you, directing you, that’s the fundamental foundation for me for raising a strong boy,” Morgan declares.

The uplifting documentary also looks at how to repair broken men, the most admired men in their lives and features what young boys love most about their dads.

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President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine, Shelly-Ann Harris feels turning the spotlight on boys and men is vital at this time. “The data is showing us that in many ways we are failing our boys and so we felt it was very important to focus on how to raise boys and restore broken men for our Father’s Day Edition, which balances our recent focus on women in the Easter Edition that was released a couple months ago,” Harris explains. “We remain thankful to our loyal sponsor, the Jamaica Broilers Group, who has supported us on this journey of sharing impactful testimonies of faith that can serve to strengthen family life,” she adds.

Viewers can watch the documentary here: https://youtu.be/aoZw0-UfXKw

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Pregnant at 16 and still in Church

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When her teenage daughter became pregnant, what could have turned into a mother’s utter shame, guilt and disgrace turned into a story of Christ’s love, redemption and power through her church. 

by Family and Faith Magazine writer, Ensebe Akunta

“I started to realize that I was looking for love in the wrong places and that the kind of love I really wanted was from my father,” Amanda* confessed. Her father had paid her scant regard throughout her life. He was not married to her mother and they did not relate well when she was growing up.

Amanda’s family circumstances are not unusual. In 2007, Jamaica had 35,344 live births out of wedlock, a little more than the capacity of Jamaica’s National Stadium.   But things are changing for better because according to the January to September 2017 Provisional Birth Statistics from the Registrar General’s Department, this number was reduced to 20,238.

Under the law, Amanda is not yet a woman but is legally allowed to engage in sexual intercourse.  At 16, she was taken out of a house by the police after she had changed out of her school uniform in a back alley and gone to visit her boyfriend.  This 19-year-old man had completed school, had no job and lived on his own with financial support from his sister and his mother who lived abroad.  The police took both Amanda and her boyfriend to the station and called the girl’s mother, Dawn*.

Dawn is a Christian who volunteers regularly at her church. Dawn said that Amanda had gotten baptized at 11-years-old and often served with her in the church. The single mother said that a few weeks after the police station incident, she bought a pregnancy test kit.  Amanda’s results were positive.

“I went into mourning,” Dawn revealed as her face took on a more serious look.  “I told  Amanda, don’t ask me any questions or expect me to make any decisions about punishment or anything for three days. Because I had been reading and meditating on 1 Samuel 16 where God asked Samuel how long he would mourn for Saul. And God was teaching me that it’s okay and it’s healthy to mourn for a time. If you don’t allow yourself to do that you’ll mourn in an unhealthy way probably the rest of your life and don’t even recognize that anger and bitterness with people is just you mourning something that happened long ago,” Dawn reasoned.

She explained that she took that time to fully feel her anger, shame, disappointment, frustration, hurt and every other emotion that came with the news. After three days, she made up her mind to move forward and shared the news with her Pastor.

Of course, the issue of sexual immorality in the church had also been the focus of national attention during the same period of time, with social media confessions from known personalities and allegations and arrests of church leaders. Like the current slew of Hollywood sex scandals, it seemed to be something ‘everyone knows about but nobody talks about’. But the numbers are not silent and it appears that about half of the young people who attend Church have had sex.

The National Family Planning Board’s 2008 Reproductive Health Survey indicates that 46% of young women and 60% of young men aged 15-24 who have ever had sexual relations attend church at least once a week.

Dawn recounted that the Pastor and his leaders lamented the fall of their young congregant as if she was their own child.   It is a small, close-knit church, led by a youthful pastor, who had not faced this situation before, she explained.

The Pastor said, “We prayed about how to respond and just followed the direction of the Lord”. They accepted the Lord’s challenge to face it in a God-honouring, Bible-believing way, so they met with Dawn and Amanda.

The Pastor and other church leaders determined that Dawn had tried her best but Amanda, knowing God’s standards, had made some bad decisions. Amanda, however, showed repentance about her sexual immorality in her speech and in her behavior.  The Pastor declared “We believe that while the sex was a sin, the baby was not” in keeping with Psalm 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Additionally, at a regular meeting of the church membership, the leaders reiterated that sex outside of marriage at any age is a sin and unacceptable, but the resulting children are not.  So, their decision was to love and support Amanda as she had recommitted to remaining a Christian and get help to make better decisions.

This gracious treatment of Amanda was peculiar because as the news soaked in, other church leaders and congregants would go to Dawn and share stories of being told to leave their church as youngsters because of teenage pregnancies.

“I heard stories of teenagers having abortion for fear of their deacon fathers finding out. Of little girls being sent away to country relatives.  Of pastors’ sons denying that they are the father and just a whole heap of painful hiding and rejection” Dawn lamented.

Clearly, when Dawn chose to tell her Pastor and Amanda agreed to meet with them, the church could freely apply 1 John 1:9 (KJV) – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Beyond Amanda’s confession and repentance her reform included attending professional counseling to speak about the issues that influenced her to sin in the first place; continuing regular attendance at church and starting mentoring relationship with a mature Christian.

Existing sex education programmes in Jamaica focus on teaching children how to engage in sexual intercourse that does not result in disease or procreation.  But they do not teach how to build stable life partnerships through healthy friendships then marriages before committing to sexual intercourse.

Both hospital and police staff encouraged Amanda to sign up with the Women’s Centre Foundation to continue her education.  But it was her mother who told her that while continuing her education was important, she also needed to learn how to have healthy Godly relationships with men.

Dawn reasoned that, “This would give Amanda hope for sex in the right context of marriage in the future.  Because after baby born, the ‘feelings’ don’t go away!  Who tells pregnant teenage girls that they can still look to get married some day?  And how do they go about achieving that?  It’s still on their minds, but who’s talking about it? And how do they raise their children well? I’d love to see Women’s Centre or the Church or somebody teach them about that!  Because as single parents we don’t always know how to”.

Throughout her pregnancy, Amanda had continued to regularly attend her church where she received encouragement and practical advice about motherhood.

Today the baby is born and bringing both joy and sleepless nights. Amanda says that her church’s love has been overwhelming as members donated cash gifts, baby clothes, furniture, diapers, motherly advice, rides to the clinic and much prayers. The baby’s father visits occasionally.

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There are no guarantees that as Christians we won’t sin, make bad decisions or mistakes. But in Romans 8:35 – 39, God has says that nothing can separate us from His love. He is not letting go. Why should we?

*Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of the family involved.

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com. You can also follow us to receive alerts when a new story is published!

 

‘There is a place for spanking’ – Dr. Barry Davidson

In these modern times, parents face unique challenges in effectively raising their children and oftentimes age-old practices are seen as ineffective, irrelevant and in some instances abusive. Corporal punishment, more commonly known as ‘spanking,’ is one of those parenting tools that is now in question and stirs significant debate.

Moreover, recent video recordings showing parents violently assaulting their children have further cracked the whip on the efficacy and humaneness of spanking. Family and Faith Magazine therefore sought answers from respected family counselor and CEO of Family Life Ministries, Dr. Barry Davidson.

Dr. Davidson first categorically explained that much of what has been seen from the viral videos are abusive behavior, where the parent seems to be venting destructive anger on a child.

Still, he was keen to point out that “there is a place for spanking.” He said: “I know it is not the politically correct thing for me to say but I say it because that is what I believe.” Dr. Davidson explained that “spanking is punishment and is not something that you do very often, it is something that you rarely do, but there is room for it. There is room for it when you really want to let the child know that this (negative behavior) is not something that you are going to tolerate.”

The family counselor was however adamant that parents “need to know when to spank, you need to know when not to spank and you need to also know how to spank.”

When not to spank

“I don’t believe you should spank for childish or immature behaviour which is consistent with a child’s age,” Dr. Davidson asserted.

He also warned against spanking when a child becomes restless as a result of sitting too long at an event or function. “A child who is in church and the service is going on too long (and the attention span for a child is much shorter than for an adult) and because the child is disturbing you; because the child is restless, you take the child outside and you spank the child – you don’t spank for that because the child is being him or herself,” the counselor explained.

Continuing he said: “you don’t spank for lack of ability – you may have one child that is very good at Math and the other is not. Don’t compare children and because one isn’t doing well you spank. You don’t spank for lack of ability.”

“You don’t spank for accidents – a child is playing cricket and the ball accidentally breaks a window you don’t spank for that however if you say to the child, don’t play cricket here anymore and the child continues, that is a different situation. That is now disobedience,” he explained.

“Never spank out of anger. Never spank when you are irritated, when you feel depressed or when you are tired because that’s when you lose control, that is when you become very very abusive,” he cautioned.

When to spank

Having shared when not to spank, Dr. Davidson also offered circumstances in which spanking may be warranted and helpful. He explained that spanking as a form of punishment can be done when there is disobedience. “Because when a child is deliberately disobedient – when a parent says over and over don’t do this and the child continues, what that child is doing is challenging the parental authority and so what the parent has to do is let the child know that this will not be tolerated, and the child must know why he or she is being spanked and the parent should be very calm and very careful,” he explained.

“I think also that children can be spanked for uncooperative attitudes – they are not willing to cooperate and again you have spoken to them, you have tried to help them to understand the importance of cooperating with the family – you might have to make a point. Because spanking is really punishment and punishment is making a point. It is letting a child know that hey, this is not going to be tolerated.”

Dr. Davidson added that parents could spank for lying, stealing, cheating – character faults. “These are things that should never be tolerated or encouraged. These are things that can end up in a worst situation than spanking, they could be embarrassed one day, in prison one day and so we need to understand that what we are doing with children is preparing them, helping them to live in  a real world and that real world has consequences for actions that right now we are helping them to change,” he explained.

A father himself, Dr Davidson told Family and Faith Magazine that: “I have 3 children and 1 of my children never ever got spanking, the other probably got 2 in their entire life and the other probably got 5 or 6 and yet still I was a believer in spanking. But I knew when to spank, when not to spank and knew spanking was not an act of discipline but punishment,” he admonished.

The family counselor also reiterated that “When I am talking about punishment I am not talking about abuse because I am very anti-abuse. I think abuse is what creates serious problems with people becoming very violent.” He however emphasized that “if you fail to punish a child, society is going to do it for you one day. A lot of children that we see becoming reckless and ruthless, they really never got the training and the discipline and when necessary the punishment when they were young.”

More on spanking below

RELATED: Check out fun Jamaican children’s book on bullying – titled We Don’t Hate Mondays Anymore!

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“It is my conviction that most youngsters even those who are rebellious against adults’ authority are actually seeking a strong hand of guidance and spanking therefore should be where you are setting definite boundaries of right and wrong for a child,” Dr. Davidson explained. Essentially, he says with spanking you are demanding obedience because disobedience can get you in trouble.

Asked what age spanking would be appropriate for children, Dr. Davidson said, “spanking should take place between ages 4 and 10. By the time you get to 10 or even 9 there is no need for spanking after that,” he said.

Where to spank

In terms of where to spank, the father of three prescribed that “the padded area that we sit on is the best place to provide the ‘rod of correction’. Certainly, it is not going to be the hands and face and the back – that to me is abuse,” he insisted.

In the end, Dr. Davidson urges parents to cultivate a balanced wholesome relationship with their children. He noted that firmness (discipline) without relationship can lead to rebellion and conversely, relationship without firmness can lead to spoiling. Instead he asserts that relationship plus firmness are what will result in helping parents to raise responsible human beings.

Do you believe there is a place for spanking? Why or why not?

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com.

For more parenting strategies from Dr. Davidson you can check out his book Answers to Questions Parents Ask co-authored with Faith Linton, now available in book stores across Jamaica.