It’s More Than Junk Mail…

Every year around the holidays we receive a gift catalog providing us with an opportunity to buy a farm animal for families living in Africa. I have tacitly accepted it as a harmless piece of junk mail. The catalog typically sits in our pile of junk mail. But, after my older daughter commented on it, I was forced to give it some attention.

“Dad, can we buy an animal for a family in Africa. The animals are for families in Africa who don’t have their rights met. They need our help. Come, look,” she said. Continue reading

Because There Aren’t Enough Black Fairies

IMG_0301 (1)Until today, my posts have been about experiences with my older daughter.  This is the first post specifically about my younger daughter.  For years she has been by our side while I talk with my older daughter, but this is the first time the conversation was just the two of us.  It may have helped that her older sister was gone for the morning.

My younger daughter celebrated her fifth birthday last weekend.  One of her gifts was a small white plaster fairy.  The gift came with paints and a paintbrush with instructions for personalizing the fairy.  The illustration on the box was a fairy with fair skin, very similar to her skin tone.  After setting up the fairy and paint on top of a paper bag with a cup of water I walked to the sink to wash dishes.

After five minutes I returned to her side to observe the progress of her masterpiece.  I immediately noticed that the porcelain white arms of the fairy’s arms, legs and face had been painted black, the dress was blue and the mushrooms surrounding the fairy were a variety of colors with spots.  Continue reading

Generalizing Abstract Concepts of (In)justice and (In)equity

Elk meatPrejudice and discrimination have been a topic of conversation for my older daughter and me for about two years.  It started with the advent of wall building, carrying on through all types of topics that almost always include the words prejudice and discrimination.  I’m happy to say that there is clear evidence that she has learned to incorporate these abstract concepts into her everyday routine.  However, of late she has taken it a little too far for her mother to tolerate. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Ever See Children With Disabilities at the Playground?

Don't call me specialAbout a week ago, I was supervising my daughters as they played on a playground.  This was a new playground for us.  It was pretty typical.  A ground cover of wood chips, slides, bars to climb across, walls to climb up, etc.  They also had six swings, two for babies and toddlers, two traditional and, less common two adaptive swings.  These swings are typically blue or red, look like an upright reclining chair, and have four chains connecting them to the cross bar; two in the front and two in the back.  They are designed to support children who do not have the size, core strength or muscle tone to sit on the other swings. Also rare for playgrounds were the rubber walkway/ramps that wove through the wood chips.  Each ramp lead to a piece of playground equipment.  I took brief notice of these features, but I didn’t consider them something worth pointing out to the children.  I was wrong.

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When You Need to Talk About Suicide

The love huntSeveral months ago a colleague of my wife tragically died by suicide.  My wife and I talked about it a few times, but the conversations were brief, especially around the children.  However, we were aware that they heard some of our dialogue.  Nonetheless, neither asked for more information…at the time.

Death is something we have discussed with our seven-year-old countless times.  It became a regular topic of conversation after watching the children’s movies The Book of Life and Coco, which both have a narrative based on the afterlife.  But we have never talked about death in the context of suicide…that is until a month or so ago. Continue reading

Do all Muslim Women Wear Hijabs?

MalalaMy daughter’s favorite book for the past two months has been “For the right to learn: Malala Yousafzai’s story.” So it wasn’t all that surprising when, on our way to the grocery store this afternoon she asked, “Do all Muslim women have to wear a hijab?” Continue reading

Daddy, What’s an Opioid Overdose?

Driving to school

Hydrocodone Has Dark Side as Recreational Drug

Daddy, what’s an opioid overdose? Sweetie, that’s another great question that we’ve never really talked about. Like many of the other great question you have, I don’t have a perfect answer and if you ask other people, they may disagree with me. If my answer doesn’t make sense or we feel we need more information, I will find someone else who can help us.

 

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Why Do They Want to Build a Wall? Listen, and Speak Up!

First in a three part blog series on social justice by Dr. Andrew Goff…because #OurKidsAreListening.

Last January, my six-year-old daughter Addi and I were driving home from the grocery store when I encountered a new phase of my life as a father. I was busy thinking about dinner with public radio quietly playing in the background. Suddenly, she asked, “Why would they want to build a wall? Will we still be able to see Vito (great grandfather in Juarez, Mexico)?”

Pause five seconds…boarder? Wait, what?…I didn’t turn off the radio when the news came on!…deep breath in… “That’s a very good question sweetie, let’s talk about that as soon as we get home.”

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Why Do the Football Players Take a Knee?

Taking a kneeOn our way to school this morning my six-year-old asked me about taking a knee during the national anthem. Like all of our other conversation about SJ and E, it was amazing! This is the first I have chosen to share, because they are always very personal and I do not want anyone to think that I believe I have the right answers. However, this particular conversation was is one I feel people need to think about long and hard. Continue reading

When She Asked About Mental Illness

We were eating breakfast the other day when by daughter asked,

“Daddy, what is mental illness?”

“…well sweetie, like all of the other amazing questions you ask me, the answer is not easy for me to explain. Can you let me think about it for a little while? I won’t have a great answer, but I’ll try my best…” Continue reading