3.5 Years Old

Children grow up so fast.  Our twins are now 3.5 years old and are confident, talkative, healthy toddlers.  Don’t get me wrong, they have their moments as 3 year old kids do, but we are just so proud of the little people they have become.  So tonight I felt inspired to share a photo for no reason what so ever.  I’m a proud dad, that’s good enough reason right🙂

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Why Same-Sex Marriage is likely to fail under a Plebiscite

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Update: A reader posted a reply to this article outlining a couple points I did not know, which if they eventuate, could really change things. I thought it important to post before the actual article. He wrote “Hi Adrian, great article, but I’m not as pessimistic as you are on this issue. Firstly, this plebiscite is likely to be conducted with a compulsory vote, in line with the Electoral Act and Referendum Act. Plebiscites can be a little different, but essentially parliament would need to specifically decide to make this vote voluntary, so that’s unlikely. I doubt the government would go to all the effort of a national vote and then allow the losing side to argue against the result’s validity because it was a voluntary vote. Even if it was voluntary, the Irish referendum is a good example of an overwhelmingly Catholic country where the pro marriage equality side won convincingly even though voting was voluntary (61% voter turnout and 62% voting ‘yes’). Also, Catholics/Christians in western countries such as Australia tend to make these sort of moral decisions independently of direction from the Church (how many Christians have sex outside of marriage or use contraception against the wishes of the church), so I think the opinion polling should stack up in an actual vote.”


As many Australians would be aware, the current government is planning on holding a ‘voluntary referendum’ (or a plebiscite) to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

 

In my opinion, this is not likely to pass, and this will be used to ensure that the definition of marriage remains solely between a man and woman for many years to come.  My opinion is based on simple cohort analysis.  I hope I’m completely wrong.

The two critical issues with a plebiscite are that a) voting is not mandatory and that b) the nation expects the result to be binding.

When voting is not mandatory, the only people who vote will be those who really care about the issue.  That means we need to be really concerned about what different cohorts of the population will do, not what the overall group or average of people might think in a poll.

Continue reading Why Same-Sex Marriage is likely to fail under a Plebiscite

Our Approach to Food

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We don’t usually eat red meat, but the salad, steamed vegetables and water are staples.

We’re very fortunate to have children who eat well, which is something that they’ve done since the day they were born. They eat most food, and seem to get the balance right between good food and ‘sometimes food’.  It was easy when they were just on a bottle, but things did get harder when they hit their toddler phase, which required us to think a little more about how we manage their new found culinary tastes. I vividly remember the day Tom came home from childcare and declared he no longer ate mushrooms as he thought they were “disgusting – my friend at school said so.”

So after a few years of managing this, here are our top pieces of advice.

(Before I delve into this, I want to acknowledge that all families and children are different. My intent is not to make anyone feel bad or try be the person with the answers.  With all advice, figure out what works for you and ignore the rest.)

  1. Rule 1 is that we don’t argue about food in front of the kids (in fact, we try to not argue in front of kids about anything).  We simply don’t want to create an air of anxiety about it. It’s hard sometimes because the kids might turn their nose up at the chicken pie you spent the day cooking. Or you might be angry at your partner because they gave them a cookie just before dinner. Relax, and breath. We might say “thats a sometimes food, maybe you shouldn’t have any more”, or “you sure you don’t want some, I think it’s pretty yummy”. But we wouldn’t provoke a fight. And if the discussion is with your partner, which it often is, we try to discuss it when the kids are in bed, and have a united front the next day.
  2. Kids can eat anything; all our food is everybody’s food. We tend to focus on moderation, especially of what we call ‘sometimes food’.  Sure, it’s fine to have ice-cream, but maybe one scoop. And no, you probably shouldn’t follow that with chocolate cake.  Nobody has their own special food.  We don’t keep a special stash of chocolate for adults that we secretly eat when the children are in bed (although I admit, we used to!). If I want to eat Nutella, then I make a slice or two of toast for the whole family and divide it up and we have fun in the moment.  Kids will be tempted by “bad” food all their life, and our philosophy is helping kids build skills to be able to appropriately fit in their diets. Prohibition doesn’t work, it never has.
  3. Keep snacking to a minimum. It’s simple. Kids are more likely to eat the healthier food at meal times.
  4. We decide what food is available, they decide how much of it eat. Lunch might be a quiche and they might stuff their face full, or they might eat nothing at all.  It’s fine, there is no argument or fighting with the kids, and no negotiation. But they can’t go to the cupboard and eat something that isn’t served for dinner, and in-between meals snacking is at a minimum. Usually they have their appetite back by the next meal. The only time we make them eat is when they put the food in their bowls themselves. It’s wasteful to take food and not eat it.
  5. We don’t hide food in other food, like making a cheesy, carb bake thing in order for the kids to eat broccoli. We have steamed broccoli with a little oil, salt and lemon; not only because it’s healthier but because it’s teaching the kids that eating vegetables is important. If they don’t eat it, it’s fine. But there aren’t many other options to choose from and there’s no biscuits to fill you up afterwards … and we’re reheating the broccoli for the next dinner.
  6. We only drink water and milk. There’s no juice, no cordial and no fizzy drinks in the house. The kids don’t know any different, so it’s not an issue.  Although the water also comes in sparkling, so lots of options!  At other people’s houses, if they see juice or coke, they can have some, no problems. Though we usually dilute the juice because they now find it too sweet for their liking.
  7. We avoid saying we “don’t like” certain foods. Sure, we acknowledge that some food is greasy, or some is too sweat or others are not salty enough, but we avoid saying “I don’t like” or “hate”.  That includes unhealthy food.  Unhealthy food is simply a part of life, and the better we equip the kids to accept that as part of a healthy diet, the better.  We call it a ‘sometimes food’ and talk about the concept of moderation. And some parents don’t like healthy food, like mushrooms or avocado, but we wouldn’t say that to the kids either.

In summary, we try to model healthy eating ourselves, and we practice moderation and balance. It’s not rocket science. If you have a poor diet but try to force a healthy diet on your kids, you’ll struggle.  If you have diet food in the fridge “just for papa”, you’re sending mixed messages to your kids.  If you’re on a fad diet and don’t demonstrate what healthy eating looks like, you’re giving cues to your kids to do the same thing.

As with everything, we continue to learn and everything I say is subject to me being completely wrong!

I wish you well on your journey building healthy eating habits for your little ones!

Same-sex marriage isn’t to blame for the traumatic divorce of your parents

r1461032_21294813Katy Faust is an American who was “raised by lesbians” and is against same-sex marriage. She is a fundamentalist Christian and runs a website called askthebigot.com. She is currently in Australia promoting the cause for traditional marriage and will be on Q&A tomorrow night.

But it’s important to know that Katy was raised as a child in a traditional mum & dad family, until her parents divorced when she was nine. The divorce was “the most traumatic event in my thirty-eight years of life.” Her mum then met another woman, and they both continued to raise Katy. Her step-mum seems to have done a great job, and is someone who Katy “truly loves and respects”.

How terrible to have gone through a family breakup at such a young age. But this experience doesn’t mean same-sex marriage is a bad, it means that family breakups are bad. I doubt she would have the views she does if she was raised by her lesbian parents from birth, and if she never went through that terrible divorce.

Tom & Alice have been raised by two dads from day one … daddy and papa are their parents and love them and are there for them. It’s just their normal. Katy on the other hand was raised by a mum and dad, then went through a breakup that was traumatic and had to get accustomed to her mum now having a female partner. That really changes things.

It wasn’t same-sex marriage that caused Katy’s trauma, it was the fact the parents that she loved broke up. 

That’s where Katy and I should be on the same page; that what makes happy and well rounded children is a stable and loving family environment. When marriages breakdown, often it is the children who suffer. Marriage helps create a more solid commitment between couples, and that’s a good thing.

For our family situation to be like Katy’s, then Ralph and I would have to break up in a few years. It doesn’t matter that Ralph and I are both guys, I’m sure it would still be difficult for the children. And if one of us then got married to a woman, then I’m sure our children would look at the situation in a similar light to Katy. “What’s going on here?” “Who is this woman?” “Why aren’t my dads still together?”

And most importantly they might think, “This new person is not able to do the same job that my other dad was doing. They just can’t.”

If there’s anything we should all be against, it’s unhappy couples having children. Because happy, committed family units that stay together tend to raise great kids, irrespective of the gender of the parents.

(As an aside, who calls their website AskTheBigot anyway? And why are we giving an American airtime on this debate? Who asked her to come and speak here? And why don’t we have any Australian voices with real life experience on this topic on this Q&A program?)

I Beg You, No Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage

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Please, I beg you, can we not have a referendum or a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. I’m not sure I would be able to be in the country at the same time. Let me explain.

The two main opponents of same-sex marriage are the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and the Australia Marriage Forum (funded in part by the ACL). The main argument of both these organisations is that same-sex marriage will lead to more children being raised by same-sex parents, and this is a bad thing. The Australia Marriage Forum’s slogan is “Think of the children”.

My view on this is fairly clear; these are two separate issues. Same-sex couples are having children today and have done so for many decades. Whether a law is passed to legalise same-sex marriage or not is somewhat inconsequential to whether same-sex couples have children. Case in point is us; we have children and we aren’t married.

A couple other points before I continue. The Australian Christian Lobby doesn’t represent all Christians on this issue, in fact they appear to represent the views of a minority.  A recent Galaxy Poll indicated that 53% of Christians support equality.  And lastly, I can’t help by re-iterate the point that same-sex families are doing just great thankyou. Read this article that unbiasedly reviews the research and comes to the conclusion that there isn’t any credible evidence that children of same-sex parents have worse upbringings.

Continue reading I Beg You, No Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage

My week with Conservative, Christian, Rural Australians; more support Equality than you may think

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Our Campfire Conversation

Last year I started a new job, and was fortunate enough to be invited to a week-long camp in outback Australia with my new work colleagues. The purpose of the event was to better understand the challenges confronting families in remote areas of Australia.

The event was hosted by John Anderson (Former Deputy Prime Minister & Former Leader of the National Party) and his wife Julia, at their stunning property called Liverpool Plains. Outback Futures, a Christian based not-for-profit organisation who are dedicated to this cause, joined the troupe. They organised families from across rural NSW and Queensland to join us on the trip.

It was an authentic Australian rural experience, where we slept in tents by night and drove cattle by day. John & Julia, and Outback Futures were wonderful hosts. The rural families that joined us had real stories of hardship that touched all of us. One lady lived with her husband and son on a cattle station so large she never saw other people for weeks on end. These Australians deserve our utmost respect.

I was certainly out of my depth though. I’m a city boy and am unaccustomed to sleeping in a tent in below zero temperatures. Everyone brought their sports bag for luggage, I bought my UltraLite Samsonite with four wheels (embarrassingly useless on the dirt). Most people didn’t know I was gay and even more, that I had children via surrogacy. And I was in the company of either signed up Christians, members of the conservative National Party or people who lived on the land which I knew nothing about … most people were all three.

Continue reading My week with Conservative, Christian, Rural Australians; more support Equality than you may think

A Story of Hope and Overcoming the Impossible

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Baby Matilda and Happy Parents

There are so many stories these days of how people are becoming parents in ways that were previously not possible. These are the people who stand on the shoulders of giants and who make it easier for everyone who then follow in their footsteps. If you’re feeling a little despondent that perhaps parenthood isn’t going to be possible for you, then read on.

A female friend of mine who I used to work with was both unable to carry a child and had eggs which were not compatible with her husband (don’t ask me details of why this was the case, it’s all very confusing!). When neither of you are able to be the biological parent, and you also can’t carry the child, that poses a real issue in Australia.  I hadn’t heard of anyone going through surrogacy in this way because there is no biological link with the intended parents and the child.

Well, my friends didn’t give up. They went to the Supreme Court of Australia and obtained an order that allowed them to source an egg donor and a sperm donor, and then implant that in a surrogate in Australia. This was a first for Australia.

I heard some wonderful news this week.

“We are finally so excited to introduce Matilda, born today at 8.40am, weighing, 7 lb. Named after her great grandmother who instilled the values which underpin this amazing gift.”

These guys will make amazing parents, and I’m so pleased for them. The effort and determination they showed in order to make this a reality is wonderful because it gives hope to those who are uncertain if they can become parents, and makes the process for them so much easier.