Category Archives: Family Life

Attraction is a feeling. Love is a promise.

Love is a promise - Cover ver 1 - no LHS Marriage can be a satisfying and exciting life-journey for a man and a woman who love each other.  However, the significant number of divorced and separated persons indicates that there is a fundamental problem with their marriage preparation.

The dreaded phrases “I just don’t love you anymore” and “where has the love gone” are common among those who mistook their intense feelings of attraction as love.

Attraction is not love.  However, people can be forgiven for making this mistake, because the various love songs, novels, and movies promote the idea that when people share a mutual attraction for each-other, then they are in love.  Attraction is an emotional force that we can feel, while love is a promise to do four progressively challenging things.

Promise number 1 is to accept her exactly as she is right now, with everything that you know and do not know about her – and there is much that you do not know.

Promise number 2 is to accept everything about her as she ages – for better or worse, richer or poorer, health or sickness.

Promise number 3 is to forgive her.  Neither of you is perfect; therefore, you will both make mistakes, and you will both need to depend on each others’ forgiveness.

Promise number 4 is to encourage her.  This provides purpose for the marriage.

These promises are completed or consummated with sexual intercourse after they are formally made at your wedding.  If the promises are not completed, then the marriage can easily be annulled.  To demonstrate your intention to keep your promises, and not reject her for a younger and more shapely rival as she ages, you must restrain yourself from sexual intercourse until after you have formally made your promises.  If you are able to restrain yourself while your level of attraction is at its highest with her, then you show her that you are capable of resisting the future temptations that are certain to come from others.

The couple who is ready to make and keep their promises of love is ready to get married.  Spouses of those with no intention of keeping these promises endure a life sentence of misery.  Do not join them.

I wrote this, my sixth book, to help men and couples understand if they are ready to make and keep these promises.  The official web-site with discussions is linked here.  However, you may purchase the $8.00 book here or at Amazon.com here, which describes this brief summary in greater detail.

Best regards,

Grenville

Securing Your Children’s Failure

There are many personal destructive addictive behaviors.  Some can be categorized as illegal, some unethical, some unhealthy, and others morally destructive.  It is a father’s responsibility to demonstrate mastery over all such behaviors, so that he may impart to his children the necessary confidence and self-esteem in knowing that any addictive behavior can be overcome.

 Every child will have to face diverse temptations. It is not a parent’s job to keep their adult children from these temptations.  However, it is a parent’s job to prepare their young children to overcome such temptations by modeling responsible behavior, and by correcting them when they stray, as they inevitably will.

A study performed on US prisons found that almost all prisoners had a bad or non-existent relationship with their fathers.  These prisoners were unprepared to manage the temptations that confront every man.  Rather than practicing to overcome such temptations when the consequences of failure were relatively mild in a family environment, they failed as adults where such consequences are severe.

As I raise my son, my heart grieves for those children who are not being fathered, and for those young adults who are not prepared to face temptations on their own.  Let me try to share some fatherly advice to those young adults who do not feel that they can overcome an addictive behavior, whether sex, drugs, alcohol, Internet pornography, gambling smoking, gluttony, etc.

Firstly, you need to understand that you can avoid becoming addicted to any type of addictive behavior by simply choosing not to engage in it.  I know that this is easier said than done. However, it is the most efficient way to live your life.

You see, there are three equally effective ways of learning life’s basic lessons:

1. by obeying responsible instructions;

2. by observing the failure of others; and

3. by experiencing the failure for yourself.

The principal difference in these methods is the time required to learn.  Once you have learned the basic lessons, you can then proceed to learn more advanced lessons.  The first method takes the least amount of time.  The second takes a bit more time.  The last may take decades.  However, those who  consistently choose the third method are destined to learn only a few lessons because we have a finite amount of time on this earth.

 Secondly, if you find yourself addicted to irresponsible behavior, then you can stop at any time – once you are serious.  Many struggle with addictions for years, principally because they are not serious – they wish to leave the door slightly open, so that they can have the option of returning to experience the pleasure that engaging in the behavior brought.

If you are a father, and you are engaging in addictive behavior, whether extra-marital sex, drugs, alcohol, Internet pornography, gambling, smoking, gluttony, etc, then unless you get serious about stopping, you are simply ensuring that your children will have to fight your unfinished battles, while being completely unprepared to do so.  Thus, you are securing their failure, and destining them to many years of failing to overcome the behavior which you refused to overcome.

 If you are serious about stopping, then let me suggest the following three steps.

Step 1 – Tell God, who knows your true intents, that you will never do the deed again.

Step 2 – Demonstrate your commitment by getting rid of and cutting yourself off from everything associated with that behavior.

Step 3 – You will be tempted often.  Choose to stop thinking about it, look away,  and spend the time that you used to spend in addictive behavior habitually doing something responsible.

You may fail subsequent temptations.  However, the difference is that you are now walking upright and going somewhere.  You may stumble and fall, but get up quickly and keep walking.  The person who is addicted stays down for a long while.

Let me recommend that you listen to the following song – it is in two parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC6nxbu8XPM&playnext=1&list=PLA5815C60B80D7EBF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chz0K8rXkAw&feature=related

 You can also watch the dramatic presentation below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmkysRWPJHk

This one may also be useful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3ewPHaPBfA

Regards,

Grenville

The Most Important Role of a Father

I was preparing to make a presentation of ‘Brothers Kept Apart’ at the Grande Salle, Central Bank complex, and I had to get there early to prepare.  As I was putting on my tie, my 4-year old son came into the bedroom and asked: “Daddy, where are you going?”  I am going to give a presentation, I replied.  “Can you give me a present too?” He asked.  I am not going to give a present but a speech.  Immediately he responded: “Oh! I know. You are going to say blah blah blah blah blah.”  Well, yes. I replied.

Mid-way through my presentation, I noticed my wife and son in the back row.  It was a school night, but my wife brought him along to see his father in action.  When our eyes met, he waved, and I waved back.  My wife had to restrain him from speaking.

 When I finished the presentation, there was a 15 minute intermission and complimentary refreshment break.  He ran to me, greeted me with a hug and said “You did good Daddy.”  While I got an ovation for the presentation, and received and appreciated the many kind and encouraging words from dignitaries, friends, and those whom I did not know, it was the response of my only begotten son that had me chocking back tears.  Thank you. I replied.

 I love my son.  I love when we walk together with his little trusting hand in mine, or when he climbs onto my back, or when I lift him into my arms as he raises his arms signalling to me that he is tired.  I feel rewarded just serving him.  However, I am fully aware that the most important function that I must play is to facilitate the transfer of his precious and complete trust from my hand to God’s hand, from my arms to God’s unfailing arms, from me to God.  For I am flesh, and my strength and knowledge will fade, but God is perfect and almighty and all-wise and good, and his guidance is sure.

 When I was fifteen years old, shortly before my high school examinations, my father and I were at home alone cleaning up.  Daddy was washing the dishes and I was drying them.  As we conversed, my father encouraged me to trust God and to seek his guidance.  Thus began not only an acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, but the cultivation of a relationship with God, my heavenly Father.

 My hope for all of you fathers is that you be reconciled to the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that you facilitate the reconciliation of your son to God, your heavenly Father.  There is no greater responsibility than that.

 Regards,

Grenville

Daddy is Still a Giant

Dear Readers:

There are few things that I am as proud about as being my father’s son. When I was a child, Daddy seemed like a giant who had all knowledge and limitless strength, and I generally obeyed him out of a fear of the consequences of disobedience, and an obligation to God. Following adolescence, I did so out of a deep gratitude and love.

Daddy took his role as a father quite seriously as he guided, supported, encouraged, and disciplined his four children during their formative years and beyond. It was a demonstration of love that cannot be adequately described with mere words, but I shall make an attempt.

Our home was a safe environment where external stresses were unknown. I never saw my parents arguing, and although they undoubtedly had disagreements, the typical marital and financial stresses of young couples were never transferred to us. The only stresses that we experienced resulted from facing the consequences of mischief, peer pressure, and homework.

Daddy is blessed with an abundance of wisdom, and an ability to understand apparently any subject, with a common sense approach to using the knowledge attained. If he had the time, I am certain that he could conquer any field of learning.

Every area that he encouraged me in as a youth, I pursued and attained some measure of achievement, be it music, engineering, religion, or writing. Strangely enough, those areas where he did not actively encourage me, I did not actively pursue, like sports. Perhaps parental encouragement is a significant factor in determining what children will later pursue. However that will be weighed in the balance in due course.

During our adolescence, our parents’ prior guidance and inculcation of values saw us through that turbulent time. Their persistent efforts were not appreciated much then, but they certainly are now.

Teenagers are generally too distracted with the present activities to concentrate on behavioural consequences or planning for the future. It is therefore vitally important that teenagers listen to parental advice even though they may not want to, since some mistakes made during adolescence can carry life-changing consequences.

Daddy explained sex and things related to each of us when we were old enough, and would warn us about being negatively influenced by our friends. Friends who are rebellious or who find life boring can pursue activities that may initially seem like fun, but which can easily lead to a lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and crime.

I have seen many influential teenagers persuade their naive friends to indulge in irresponsible behaviour. The influential teenagers would later turn back to pursue their own educational goals and careers. However some of their friends were often unable to find their way back and were left behind with so much unrealised potential. The influential teenagers did not appear to lead their friends down a path of destruction out of spite. They were simply inexperienced and ignorant youth who used their natural leadership qualities irresponsibly, to the emotional and moral detriment of their friends.

Daddy encouraged us to remain focused on our educational goals, and not to be distracted by prematurely engaging in activism. He acknowledged that there were many problems and injustices in the world, but advised that an education could assist with designing and articulating solutions.

Daddy prepared us for leaving the security of the nest and facing the challenges of life, and when we struggled, he always had timely words of encouragement. He encouraged us never to give up, regardless of any disappointments in life. He is always willing to share his wisdom, answer any questions, and provide his opinion, and whenever I follow his advice, I benefit.

Tomorrow is Daddy’s birthday, and he is still the giant that I knew in my youth. I cannot properly express the love, gratitude, and admiration that I feel for him, but I have sought to live by his values of: helping the less fortunate, befriending the stranger, encouraging the despondent, guiding the wanderer, knowing God, never compromising personal integrity regardless of the price offered, and pursuing excellence even when there is no reward. If I can transfer such values to my children, then I think that I would have done at least half as good as Daddy.

Look Daddy – we’re flying!

Happy Birthday Mum

Dear Readers:

Merry Christmas to you all on this most exciting day of the year, which also happens to be my mother’s birthday! I hope that you will join me in wishing my parents a Merry Christmas and my mother a Happy Birthday.

Like all mothers, mine is unique. I do not have the space to tell it all, but let me tell a little. Mum is tireless in helping other people and providing guidance by encouraging action in what she believes to be beneficial. She is also fearless – except when watching thriller type movies. She has confronted drug dealers on the streets and an intruder as he was committing a robbery. She actually continued to confront him even when he pointed a gun to her head.

Mum was a nurse at the QEH, where she was a hero to many mothers and patients as she tried to find ways around the inadequacies of the Hospital. Because of her unselfish love, care, guidance and willingness to help others, I have been shown favour in various environments simply because I was “Nurse Phillips’ son”. Thankx Mum.

I should note that Mum is a disciplinarian. One example will suffice. When I was a lad on my way to junior choir practise at James Street Methodist Church, I noticed a whole cigarette on the road. I put it in my pocket, intending to disassemble it later to see how it was made. I forgot about it and Mum happened upon it while washing my clothes. She did not believe my explanation and washed me in spanks. I then determined that if simply picking up a cigarette could result in such a washing, then to smoke one would certainly require a resurrection. Needless to say, I do not smoke and neither do I advocate smoking.

While my father taught me mathematics, my mother taught me English, and their efforts became the foundation of my engineering and now writing careers. This however was not their greatest influence on my life. Mum taught me something that all four of my grandparents and my father taught me – to walk with the Lord. I have tried to do just that, and despite the challenges of the journey, it has been a most fulfilling experience.

I have many things in common with Mum except her dislike for insects. I do not like to kill anything, and if insects get into the house, then I would prefer to shoo them out rather than kill them. Sometimes I wish that I could communicate with them and show them that they do not need to fear me.

Actually this issue of communication is a close analogy to why we celebrate Christmas. According to the scriptures, God created mankind and hoped that we would mature in our relationships with Him and each other, and in our responsibilities. He also hoped that we would teach our children to mature.

Historically, parents unfortunately tended to live irresponsibly, and few instructed their children in the path of maturity. Priests were then charged with offering sacrifices to pay for the people’s irresponsible behaviour. Eventually religious leaders became the self-proclaimed interpreters of responsible living, and the way to maturity became a burdensome set of rules rather than a liberating way of life.

When Jesus came, He described God’s original intent. He explained how our Creator loves us so much that He wants to adopt us and become our Heavenly Father. The benefits of such a relationship are invaluable. Christmas is the time when we celebrate Jesus’ arrival on Earth.

It is primarily the responsibility of parents to secure the condition of the next generation. Therefore the most important job that people will ever have is parenting, and two important aspects of parenting are encouraging children to walk with God and be responsible. I am grateful for my parents’ guidance in this regard.

What then can I give to Mum on her birthday? She has been blessed with good health, beauty, a cheerful disposition, an active mind, and a kind heart that is always willing to help and guide. I hereby declare that I shall grant Mum one wish. She shall have anything that she asks for or wants from me, without limit – if it is within my power. Of course she shall have another wish if she asks for something that I had intended doing. Happy Birthday Mum.

Maturity in the Balance

Dear Readers:

Another day, another death, another body’s descent to the grave. Some seem to enter the grave having lived a fulfilled life; others appear to enter in their prime with so much unmet potential. Some seem to wait patiently for death, believing that their work on earth is done. Others wish for more time and fight death with all of the resources available to them. Why is this? Today we shall examine what we are supposed to be doing on this earth and how we are supposed to be doing it.

When we observe life on the earth with the passing of time, we notice that living things tend to grow. Therefore we can reasonably conclude that while on the earth, all of life, including mankind, is supposed to grow or to mature. With adequate nutrition and exercise our bodies mature. With adequate sensory stimulation, whether visual, auditory, nasal, or touch, our brains mature. But how does the person, commonly known as the soul, mature. How do we who inhabit our bodies and access information stored in our brains mature? We can glean some information by comparing the behaviour of infants and adults.

All babies act on, or are essentially controlled by their natural self-preserving desires. Adults however come in two varieties, those who try to control these natural desires, and those who do not, either because they cannot or are unwilling to try. Being controlled by selfish desires is necessary for the baby’s survival, but it is irresponsible adult behaviour. Therefore a measure of maturity appears to be the degree to which selfish desires are controlled, and it does not appear to be guaranteed by the passage of time.

If we agree that we are supposed to mature, then by what process does the person mature? By observation, and contrasting the behaviour of responsible and irresponsible adults, maturity seems to be directly related to how we perform responsibilities. There are three factors related to performing responsibilities, namely motive, attitude, and competence and they can effectively be described through a personal example.

When I was but a wee lad, it was my duty to take the garbage out of the house. Initially I was not pleased with this work, since fairness would indicate that it should be shared with my siblings. I would therefore complain. My poor attitude to this work affected my performance, as I would sometimes kick the garbage bag from the house to the place where it would be collected. Sometimes a hole would develop resulting in some spillage, which I had to clean up.

Despite my poor performance and poor attitude to the task, I persisted with it in the hope of receiving some monetary reward at the end of the month. My motive for performing the work was therefore purely selfish.

As time went on, I began to realize that my siblings were performing other tasks, which I did not have to perform, and so I stopped complaining. I also realised that if the garbage was not removed promptly then it could affect the aroma of the kitchen. My motive therefore became less selfish, and it too affected my work’s performance.

Therefore the process of maturity in an individual appears to be facilitated by attempting to perform all responsibilities properly, with a good attitude and an unselfish motive. Three environments that provide wonderful opportunities for facilitating this process of maturing are the home, church, and place of work.

Parents who give their children responsibilities and ensure that they are performed, facilitate the maturing of their children. Those who only provide for their children’s physical needs do not.

Churches that give their members actual responsibilities facilitate their member’s maturity. Those who only request that they come, sing, listen and go home do not.

Employers who properly manage their employees by providing them with adequate amounts of work, and review their performance, facilitate their maturity. Those who simply provide jobs for people without ensuring that the work is performed properly do not.

If we are supposed to mature, then a primary objective for our nation should be to facilitate this process of maturing for our citizens and residents.

Suffering in the Balance

Dear Readers:

Why do bad things happen to us? Why do we suffer? These questions if not addressed properly can lead the sufferer to despair and in extreme cases, suicide. Given the number of suicide attempts in Barbados, and the recent (2002) promotion of doctor assisted suicide, I thought that today we should examine suffering.

Some assume that suffering is a result of punishment for wrong doing, while others assert that it is fate or coincidence. But what initiates suffering? By observation, there appear to be three types of suffering and a description of each type may reveal the causes.

The first two types are associated with selfish desires. Selfish desires are natural, but they are not always beneficial. We have a natural desire for food, drink, music, sex, material goods and other pleasures. Knowing when to satisfy these desires is a mark of wisdom.

Temptations are opportunities for us to satisfy these desires either wisely or irresponsibly. If they are satisfied wisely, then complete pleasure can be experienced and the residual physical, mental and emotional benefits will enhance subsequent pleasurable events. If however these desires are satisfied irresponsibly, then there may be a brief experience of pleasure but with the accompanying guilt, followed by negative physical, mental and emotional consequences.

Irresponsible eating includes consuming unhealthy foods especially after the appetite has been satisfied. There may be momentary pleasure while the food is being ingested. However, the host of health related diseases resulting from unhealthy or over-eating should be incentive enough to eat wisely.

Irresponsible sexual behaviour includes sexual intercourse before marriage and being unfaithful to your spouse. There may be momentary pleasure during the act. However, the host of incurable sexually transmitted diseases, not to speak of AIDS, should be reason enough to be responsible in this regard.

Hence two types of suffering are revealed. The first type is experienced by those who resist the temptation to irresponsibly satisfy their natural desire for pleasure. This type is beneficial to personal development and builds character. The second type is experienced by those who must face the consequences of irresponsibly satisfying their desire for pleasure.

It should be noted that temptations are realised when curiosity is aroused, and curiosity is aroused when information on the subject is promoted. Therefore the strategy of promoting sex education in primary schools may not be beneficial. It is irresponsible for either parents or teachers to awaken sexual desires in primary school children, thereby prematurely forcing them to resist these desires. They are not physically, mentally nor emotionally developed enough to bear either the first or second type of suffering in this regard.

As explained in my Co-education column, children’s brains develop differently before the onset of puberty. They mainly learn by participating, and if their curiosity is aroused, they will tend to explore the described behaviour. The recent reports of 7 to 9 year olds engaging in sexual behaviour should inform us that children are having more difficulty in resisting this type of behaviour.

The third type of suffering occurs when persons are doing nothing wrong, but bad things happen. They include: the faithful wife who gets HIV/AIDS from her unfaithful husband, the careful pedestrian who is disabled by a drunk driver, the responsible parent who’s son embraces irresponsible behaviour, the productive employee who is severed, the healthy eater who gets cancer, and the innocent victims of rape, assault and robbery. These people experience a level of suffering that goes beyond that described thus far since there is no apparent cause. We must therefore seek an explanation beyond what we can simply observe.

If we believe Jesus, who said that everyone must be seasoned or prepared with fire to receive greater responsibilities following this life, then this becomes a source of hope for the third type of sufferers. However, those who undergo this type of suffering are highly vulnerable to despair and succumbing to irresponsible behaviour. Therefore those individuals and groups, who support and encourage these suffers to persevere and maintain a positive attitude, deserve our commendation.