‘Family Still Our Pride’ was the two page headline in Australia’s biggest selling newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph. This headline appeared several years ago but there is no reason to believe anything has really changed in the Australian psyche. Family is still number one for the vast majority of Australians, and I do mean vast.
The article went on like this, “Scrabble anyone? It seems family time is back – our favourite activities are sharing a meal with loved ones, before tackling an old fashioned board game or two. In fact, 98.9% of us can’t wait to get home to our families every day, ranking them ahead of wealth, possessions and career in the important things of life.”
More than 7,500 readers responded to questions designed by social demographer Mark McCrindle to help determine the priorities and experiences of ordinary people. “It’s all about the family – it’s back in vogue”, Mr McCrindle said. “Australians are most proud of families and children and nearly all of us look forward to going home at the end of a working day. There has certainly been a resurgence in family and people are saying we can’t let technology and the pressures of life overtake us.” Three out of five people had dinner with loved ones last night and one in seven played a board game in the last week the article said.
Over the last couple of decades I have led many delegations to meet with federal parliamentarians to talk to them about the importance of family, fatherhood, motherhood, men’s health, women’s and men’s issues, marriage, family law reform and children’s rights. The silence at times has been deafening.
Sadly, many of our parliamentarians are more beholden to the press gallery than they are to the wishes of the children of Australia. Identity politics has taken over and the important voice of our children has been lost in the melee.
Encouraging the bedrock of marriage and supporting mums and dads in their task of being great parents to their children appears to be a peripheral issue to most, and I do say that sadly. Over the years I have held six parliamentary entrance passes and I have let them expire for several months at a time because of the discouragement of trying to talk to many parliamentarians about the importance of fatherhood and motherhood.
It is like talking to a brick wall, with a few notable exceptions.
Mark Latham, former Labor Leader of the Opposition, is a passionate Dad, as is John Anderson, former Deputy Prime Minister. They both got out of politics before their time, but both for all the right reasons. Ultimately, they put their families first.
Unfortunately, despite what the public thinks, parliamentary life is one of immense sacrifice; forget board games with your children every second night; forget a regular midweek date night between husband and wife. Eating a meal with your family becomes an infrequent experience if you are a parliamentarian.
That is why the divorce rate for parliamentarians is so high, and of course, the parliamentarian’s children pay the price. I will always remember the night Kim Beazley, then Labor Opposition Leader, leaned across the table at a Fatherhood Seminar I was conducting to encourage parliamentarians to be better fathers, and told me that the divorce rate was higher within the four walls of Parliament House than it was in the broader community. Kim could speak with experience as a divorced father of two beautiful daughters.
I think parliamentarians put those brick walls up when you start talking about marriage, fatherhood, motherhood and family because they don’t readily grasp the concept that Mark McCrindle spoke of: “That for the average Australian, it’s all about the family – it’s back in vogue.”
In their frenetic work schedules, they are prevented from enjoying family as they should. We should always remember this before we jump in to criticise our parliamentary representatives too quickly.
Because of my empathy for them I always try to honour and encourage them (both sides) as much as possible despite the horrible anti-family legislation they often have to support because of party dictates.
I believe that the family delegations, conferences, forums, summits and seminars that Dads4Kids has had the privilege of coordinating in Parliament House over the years have been like a breath of fresh air for these hardworking men and women.
Sure, our children don’t always do what we want, but if we spend all of our time telling them what is wrong with them, we soon alienate them completely. That’s why we should go out of our way to encourage our politicians and thank them for their sacrifice on behalf of our nation.
I encourage you to write a letter/email of thanks and appreciation to your local Federal Member and Senators this week. Send the same email to your State Members as well. Use the Australian Family Association ‘email your own parliamentarian’ facility here. Encourage them to put the children and families of Australia first as well as their own families, but make sure you thank them for their amazing sacrifice first, as positive words of affirmation are few and far between when you are a parliamentarian.
Yours for the families of Australia
PS: Time is running out if you want to come to the Men’s Leadership Summit, 17 – 19 August at Stanwell Tops near Sydney, as registrations will soon be filled. Watch the promo video here to get the full picture. Check out all the information at this link or scroll down to News & Info. Make your BOOKING HERE