Archives For Parenting

There’s a big difference between politicians doing something, and politicians making it look like they’re doing something. What looks good for us, isn’t always what’s good for us. The image we are sold is can often be dissimilar to the product we end up with.

For instance, social distancing laws have created an image of police protecting politicians, instead of the police protecting the people. Look at how famously the police have broken their own social distancing rules while enforcing the will of the political class.

Another example is the sleight of hand when it comes to taxation, the important social welfare safety net and healthcare. Governments like to tell you that they’re providing for the people, when for the most part, all they’ve done is take from the people to provide for themselves.

The government takes money from one pocket, puts it in the other, and we all applaud them for it. This is after they’ve taken their cut for giving us the privilege of rights, freedoms, and access to services. If, and it’s sometimes a big “if”, they consider us eligible.

If I’m coming across as an extreme sceptic in the benevolence of government programs, it’s because I am, and for good reason.

I grew up in a government owned house, on a government housing estate. I come from an abusive, highly dysfunctional home, where my family never broke out beyond its dependency on government programs. My parents were decent enough people. My mother did the best she could with what she had. My father didn’t do a whole lot, but our house was always clean, and food was always on the table. While they seriously missed the boat when it comes to parenting skills, they were neither drug addicted nor negligent of their responsibilities as citizens. My parents were stuck in the welfare cycle, couldn’t get out of it, and in the end, gave in to the idea that they never would.

In 2015, not long after my father’s death, I learned he had a criminal record. The news wasn’t all that surprising. He was a proud man. Reason enough for why he never spoke of word it to anyone for over 40 years. He didn’t fear work or fear having to work. He’d convinced himself that his multiple run-ins with the law as a teenager in the 1960s, made him unemployable. The only job I remember him having was a four year stint in the army reserve during the mid-late 1980s.

My father may not have gone to prison, but the social system, and the broken family he came from put him in a psychological one. While partly of his own making, this psychological prison was enabled by politicians who benefited from keeping him locked down in the “benevolence” of the welfare state.

Though both my mother and father had worked off and on, neither of them ever held down a full time job. My mother worked once in the 1970’s, but as she tells it, my father held her back from continuing, because he was concerned about how much what she earned would impact his social security payment.

The system enabled, and funded my father’s dysfunctional way of life. (In some ways he was probably a victim of the unintended side-effects of Whitlam’s Welfare reforms.)

He was a die-hard Labor voter, and he opposed communism, even though he lived on welfare for the majority of his life. When, in later years I questioned Labor initiatives, and their policy platform, he always vehemently defended the hands that had led, housed, healed and fed him for decades.

It was murky subject matter. Still it taught me that Marxist justifications for the welfare state rarely, if ever raise people up. These justifications come undone, when welfare dependent citizens like my father, are paid in similar ways to an aristocrat. They enslave, rather than liberate. One person is chained to the state for their livelihood, while others are condemned to a life of servitude in order to provide for it.

Like an aristocrat, in order to provide for a particular standard of living, the wages of workers are garnished. The only social contractual obligation is loyalty to the political party who pays the most, and asks the least amount of questions.

Thus the government takes on the role of patron. The worker takes on the role of serf. The welfare recipient takes on the role of aristocrat. This benefits bureaucrats, politicians and political parties because through government dependency they can create voters dependent on them for everything. Through the generational welfare dependency cycle, government takes over the role of extended families, and church charity. By default the government becomes a god.

I’m not advocating against social welfare safety nets. I believe in hand-ups, not hand-outs. Work for the dole, TAFE, tax offsets like the family tax benefit, pensions, or a basic Medicare system all have reasonable justifications for their existence.

Any program proven to be helpful, as opposed to harmful, should be given an attentive eye, complete with the checks and balances of review, and reform, for the sake of empowering successful initiatives.

No true conservative fits the uncaring, heartless straw man created by greedy Marxists, whose own sense of entitlement rivals that of those they seek to tear down.

Compassion and good government demand a manageable, life affirming answer to the perilous, unsustainable bubble of the welfare state. It should remove itself from enabling the cycle of welfare dependency, with the aim of liberating the people they’ve made dependent on it. This is Magna Charta, where economics and civil liberties go hand in hand.

The popularity of Donald Trump is largely because he looks to empower people, not his political party. This is proven by the way in which his own party seems to always be playing catch-up, unsure of what to do with him. He challenges the status quo, and has been able to keep himself beyond the bipartisan, stagnated swamp of cozy “business-as-usual”, governmental control.

Trump understands that there are times when the government needs to get out of the way.

In contrast, Australian politicians seem clueless. Labor leader, Anthony Albanese wants to extend Scott Morrison’s Job keeper and Job Seeker COVID-19 lockdown compensation, way beyond the initial six months allocated for it.

This isn’t a policy that helps Australians. It’s a policy that benefits the federal Labor Party. What Albanese really means is that Labor plan to politicize any COVID exit, shifting the language, and purpose of Job Seeker/Keeper from “covid countermeasures compensation”, to a pay rise for people on welfare benefits, who don’t have a legitimate exemption.

In his first major public appearance in months, Anthony Albanese should have been insisting on the return of civil liberties. He should have been calling for a way out of the police state, instead of advocating the kind of welfare dependency that benefits the welfare state.

Scott Morrison doesn’t get off easy either. Add China’s chest beating to Leftist calls for COVID-19 countermeasures to be permanent, and the Prime Minister is facing a damaging political storm. If Scott Morrison thought that he could avoid having to make Trump-like decisions, he was wrong. How he answers China’s belligerence, protects Australian sovereignty, and how he restores civil liberties post COVID-19, will be the defining of his Prime Ministership. If he fails here, and Labor continue to remain tone deaf to the Australian public, Morrison may not see a second term as P.M.


First published on Caldron Pool, 13th May, 2020.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

Parents can tend to place their kids on a pedestal.

It’s not that children take the place of God nor that parents deify their children. The pedestal is more akin to that of an illusion; a fog of false security which assumes our children are perfect, and if not perfect, at least better than we are.

In sum: without sin.

Of course, parents know deep down that it’s naïve to think children are excluded from a sinful world.

We know by our own childhood and teenage years that they aren’t. Those years teach us that we shouldn’t be complacent in thinking that our children are not prone to the affects of sin, in the same way that we are, and once were.

The condition of the human heart, as described by Jeremiah 17:9, says that we can expect ‘the human heart [to be] deceitful above all things’. This goes right back to the retro-prophetic witness in Genesis, whereby the archetypal humans, together as male and female, through temptation, broke humanity and at the same time, broke fellowship with God.

In the beginning was God and relationship with God. This relationship was initiated by God and nurtured by boundaries. By breaching those boundaries, man and woman broke fellowship with God. Having already outlined the consequences, God brings humanity to account: “Where are you? Why are you hiding? What have you done?” (Gen.3:8-13).

In a great act of love, God punishes the serpent, makes clothes for the man and woman (Gen. 3:21), then removes them from the Garden. Where, if they were to remain and eat of the second tree (the fruit of the tree of life), as they had the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death – this break with God; its lifeless godlessness; the nothingness of the abyss[i] – would be forever.

The cherubim and flaming sword (Gen.324) are set in place to save humanity from the condition they now find themselves in. God doesn’t cut and run. He sees the consequences and redefines the relationship. He removes them from the Garden, but not from His fellowship. For ‘God does not flee to man for refuge – man flees to God and lives by God’s grace’ (Barth, p.187).

By removing man and woman from the Garden, God removes them from their own destruction. That God does this proves His love for His creature. He doesn’t separate the man from the woman. Any separation of male from female; man from woman, at God’s command, or any others, would bring about the same thing that God is protecting humanity from – its own absolute and final self-annihilation.

By choosing to help them, in the midst of God’s judgement, we see His wisdom and mercy. This decision helped humanity, it was never about depriving or hurting humanity.

God never stops being graceful, merciful or just. This is who He is. No where greater is this seen than in the constant care God shows towards His people, through His people, and with decisive finality, in His son. In Jesus Christ, the entire world sees His glory. Jesus Christ is God revealed; God in revolt against the disorder of the world. God, the light of the world, pushing back against eternal darkness; against the potential forever of lifeless godlessness, and the nothingness of the abyss.[1]

By choosing to help us, we see wisdom and mercy, in the midst of God’s judgement.

‘sin means that man [and woman] is lost to themselves, but not to their Creator’. That ‘true freedom is in the act of responsibility before God […] it is never the freedom to sin’ (Barth, pp.196-197)

Contrary to God’s parenting style, parents can tend to place their kids on a pedestal. One indication that we might have put ourselves, or our children, on a pedestal is thinking that “our kids can do now wrong”. This is dangerous because the pedestal is high. The inevitable falling-off can lead to a serious falling-out between mum, dad and children. One way that we can remove ourselves and our children from that pedestal, is by acknowledging human limitations.

It stands as a well established fact, that parents are limited in being able to protect their child from the consequences of their child’s rejection of parental advice or poor decisions. We cannot wrap children in cotton wool, nor completely protect them from the affects of a sinful world.

As much as parents may want it to be different, Children are not excluded from a sinful world. As much as parents fight for their kids; teach or desire to walk with them. Just as the archetypal humans did, children may choose to walk away. They will choose not to listen to advice. They will choose to run too fast on a slippery floor, deceive from time to time, and be reckless with a knife, boiling water or worse. When these things happen, the pedestal shatters and the child comes crashing down.

Parenting then is not about pedestals, but about recovery, joy and improvisation! Being there to nurture, correct, create with, love and empower those entrusted by God into our care. Giving a firm “yes” and loving “no”, and allowing wisdom and mercy to inform when to give them.

God has no grandchildren; just as we are children, our children are God’s children. Therefore, parents are caretakers (Gen.2:15). We are given a great gift, and entrusted with the ‘training up a child in the way he should go; [so] even when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6). .

Parenting is a gift. There can be no pedestal for us or for them. There can only be protest and petition. Protest for them against the disorder of the world [ii]; prayer for them, as they walk with God against it and all that sets out to destroy them.

Ultimately, parenting is receiving what God has to teach us. Learning what God has done for us. Learning from what God does and will have us do, then doing our best to walk in that; to help pick up the pieces of our children’s poor decisions, when they make them; to pray like breathing [iii], to ‘love justice, love mercy, [and together], walk humbly with our God’ (Micah 6:8).


References & Notes:

Barth, K. 1960. Church Dogmatics III/2 Hendrickson Publishers

[1] ‘With the creation of woman God expected man to confirm and maintain his true humanity by the exclusion of every other possibility [of a partner].’ (Karl Barth CD. 3:1, 1958 p.294) ; ‘Every supposed humanity which is not radically and from the very first fellow-humanity is inhumanity’ (CD. 3:2, p.228)

[i] As are the terms given to this breach by Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[ii] I’m adopting Karl Barth’s phrase: ‘Prayer is a revolt against the disorder of the world’ from CD Fragments IV:4 

[ii] because to pray is to act. Prayer is action. Prayer is not stoic detachment.

‘far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray to you, and I will instruct you the good and the right way.’ (Samuel’s “Parenting Speech” 1 Samuel 12:20-25)

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Photo credit: Liane Metzler on Unsplash