The touchy topic of gun violence

Discussing touchy topics with family members often generates more heat but not more light. Because of this, touchy topics are often avoided. But one touchy topic we must touch upon in family discussions is gun violence. Only an ostrich buries its head in the sand and there can be no ostriches in our families when it comes to this important and recurring issue.

No matter what your perspective on the Second Amendment, we can all agree the spate of mass shootings is not only deplorable, but must be discussed. Rationally. Civilly. Creatively. And especially with our children.

Many of us feel ill equipped to talk about gun violence with our kids. Maybe we are reluctant to raise uncomfortable subjects in general. Perhaps we think we’re under informed about gun related issues. But for the sake of our children and our families we must nudge ourselves over the speedbump of conversational hesitation and give a little forethought to what we’re going to say.

I could suggest the usual approach: (1) make all discussions with children age appropriate, (2) don’t let your kids only see news reports, talk to them about how they feel about it (3) assure them that you will keep them as safe as possible. But in light of recent mass shootings, aren’t we well beyond “the usual” approach? Isn’t it time we try something different?

The epidemic of gun violence in the United States demands a new approach in our country and in our families. Talk to your children—and adult family members—about practical actions your family can take to prevent gun violence and then (to co-opt a phrase) “Just Do It”. For starters, go to the Prevention Institution website for practical ideas about “first steps” you, as a family, can take to prevent gun violence.

When all is said and done, more is said than done. Be the exception to this tired bromide. Do something to prevent gun violence by beginning with your family. Don’t just talk about it. Do something!

Happy birthday, Dad

If he were alive, my Dad would celebrate his 98th birthday on August 5. His life made all the difference in mine. I plan to buy him a birthday card even though I won’t mail it. Here’s what I plan to write in the card.
I’m missing you especially today and wanted to say “thanks”, once again, for all you meant to me. You spent time with me playing catch in the backyard, going hunting and fishing, and teaching me how to water ski. You showed me how to tune a lawn mower engine, scrape and paint a house, fix a leaky faucet and wire a broken lamp. I used to think you involved me in these “adventures” because you needed my help, but I can now see you were showing me love by teaching me to solve problems. Of course the ultimate expression of love was when you gave up a promising career opportunity because it was going to demand too much time away from the family. You displayed how a man establishes priorities in his life, and then makes decisions based on those priorities.
I remember the talks we had on the front porch, in the car, on the lake, and in the woods. I never felt rushed in any of my conversations with you. It seemed there was time enough for talk, but also for pauses and reflection. There was room enough for silence. You know how you sometimes feel awkward when a conversation lags and silence hangs heavy in the air? I never felt that way with you. I guess the true test of a relationship is whether you feel comfortable with quiet moments.
After many years I discovered the theme emerging from your life, Dad. Love must be both spoken and acted. Loving words must be accompanied by acts of selfless kindness. Caring deeds need the companionship of unhurried conversation. I’m grateful you lived that in front of me.

Thanks for the example, Dad. I miss you every day and remain proud to be called your son.

Love, Jim.

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