by JOHN FONG

It was after hearing the story of a man, now resident in New Zealand who, while living in South Sudan, ate leaves to survive that caused Mike Baird to grieve. He knew Jesus would grieve. He discussed this matter with his Men-Alive team who had organised a Bishop’s BBQ breakfast for men two years ago. They approached Bishop Stephen Lowe who gave his full support for a similar event to raise funds for the Caritas East Africa Famine Relief.

So on Saturday, July 29, men from Hamilton diocese (as well as some from Auckland) gathered at 7am at St Columba’s School hall in Frankton, Hamilton.

In Bishop Lowe’s welcome speech, he emphasised the importance of men being enthusiastic about having hearts on fire for Jesus.

Faith is like love that we share with one another and it will grow, he said.

Mike Conroy introduced the keynote speaker, Wayne Mulqueen of NZ Focus on the Family, who spoke on the role of the father’s faith in the household. How do we help men to change lives? We can do amazing things if given the right reasons.

Mr Mulqueen said that children are talents, given to us as gifts by God. Jesus showed us what we are to do with our talents. Children will later become adults and we need to be concerned about their futures. We want them to develop into mature, functioning, and emotionally-healthy adults.

Referring to the writings of Dr Gordon Neufeld, a Christian child-development psychologist, Mr Mulqueen quoted this writer: “Unconditional parental love is the indispensable nutrient for a child’s healthy emotional development.

“The first task is to create space in the child’s heart for the certainty that she [the child] is precisely the person the parents want and love. She does not have to do anything or be any different to earn that love — in fact, she cannot do anything, since that love cannot be won or lost . . . . The child can be unpleasant, whiny, uncooperative, and plain rude, and the parent still lets her feel loved.

“Ways have to be found to convey the unacceptability of certain behaviours without making the child herself feel unaccepted. She has to be able to bring her unrest, her least likable characteristics to the parent and still receive the parent’s absolutely satisfying, security-inducing unconditional love”.

“We need to take care of the attachment needs of the child; otherwise the child will seek it from elsewhere – and that is a recipe for disaster,” warned Mr Mulqueen.

“We must provide more contact and connection than the child is seeking. We do not make our children work for our love but let them rest in it. When children seek to please us as fathers rather than acting under pressure, we then have warranted their trust.”

Mr Mulqueen offered some tips to mend a child-parent relationship even if the children are now adults. Dispel any fear of making mistakes — gather them back in. If we suffer from crippling wounds and don’t measure up, ask your wife for support. Set the tone right – go to Masses more, pray and let your children see you praying with your wife, go and visit your children.

Get rid of any addictions like pornography — seek professional help if necessary.

Build your child’s faith in Jesus. Your wife is your ally — be the husband that she needs.

In conclusion, Mr Mulqueen said that fathers must model God’s love, establish connection with each of their children, and let them know how important they are to them.

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