Vulture Or Photographer: Is Your Family At Risk?
My first thought was, Why? He’s a comedian after all. But I knew why. I don’t remember one joke that had me grabbing Leah’s arm while rolling around in my seat laughing.
What I haven’t been able to forget is this image.
That’s a little girl who had almost made it to a food bank before collapsing. The vulture is waiting. Patiently waiting for her to die. And she did.
My first question like so many other people was, “Why didn’t the photographer shoo the vulture away?” The photographer also wondered and regretted, as he killed himself six months later.
I dreamed about this and when I awoke, it was the first thing on my heart. I wondered how could someone just sit there and watch without getting involved?
Then I thought about parents. How often have we watched our kids collapse just short of finding protection from what stalked them? Could we do more, should we do more, and at what point in their lives must we no longer do anything.
Parents of addicts struggle as their children do, but often are unaware of how to help. Mom and dad aren’t the vulture, but are they the cameraman? How do we know when enough is enough, or even is there such a thing as enough?
Next, I began to think about whether we sit and watch as the vulture or the photographer as our kids mature. Being passive in our roles as parents doesn’t naturally cause us to be the photographer.
Sometimes actions such as taking no action in the child’s life can be as treacherous as the vulture was to this girl. My parents had very little interaction with me as far as setting boundaries or accountability. God was never mentioned either. Growing into my faith, I began to understand the effect it had on me although there was no predatory attack. Damage is damage.
In house, we have three young boys at various stages of puberty. While we openly discuss and encourage most topics, we’ve yet to have a man-to-soon-to-be-man talk.
It’s not because we’re hesitant. A lot of it has to do with when and what to say so that they don’t come away with more questions than answers.
Our two teenaged girls are in the swing of high school life. They’re good, Christian girls, and to a degree we’ve allowed that to act as a sort of assurance. In reality, without conversations with them, that is about as effective a defense as a mosquito net would be against the vulture.
We have spoken with them, and often. What I thought at first was Leah’s “job” to talk with the girls, was something I soon realized was also my responsibility. They need a model by which to judge their male friends, boyfriends and one day their…don’t say it….husbands.
Instead of sitting idly by and hoping a predator never stalks them, I found it easier than expected to talk with them about their male counterparts. It was easier because it was something Leah and I prayed about and enveloped with God’s love and direction.
Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, my experience with the photograph wasn’t over. My heart set towards my wife. We spend lots of time together, and still sit for hours talking into the wee hours of the morning. But, there are those other times.
Yes, when it comes to Leah, there are times I become either the vulture or the photographer. I’ve hovered over her in her misery as she belabored with an argument while waiting for the right moment to attack her with another harsh word.
I’ve also sat silent as she suffered from the effects of an intense disagreement. Myself, wrapped in the bitterness of the battle, but unwilling to do anything more than watch. Her love language is touch, so by denying her that attention, it compounds the hurt.
Finally, I thought about myself. I’ve been all three to me. I’ve been starved from God’s grace by growing up without a foundation of faith.
I’ve watched myself suffer without the initiative to do something about it, and I’ve heaped misery upon myself while waiting for the next chance to self-destruct.
The Blended Family
Looking at the family dynamics for avoiding this horrific scene to play out in your family is tough. We parents do find ourselves on the sideline as observers. Sometimes it’s as simple as not knowing what was going on.
Blended families can add another element of difficulty when clear lines are not drawn for all members and a proper hierarchy hasn’t been established.
By hierarchy, I mean God first, your spouse second, and yes, even to their dismay, the kids come third. But, it’s a solid third. Once this is established, it helps to detect and combat situations where your kids may become victims.
When the non-biological parent doesn’t have the authority to parent a child, or isn’t fully invested in the blended family dynamic, then not just gaps, but gapping cracks occur where kids and your spouse may fall through.
It’s complex when operating without Christ as your anchor. He will provide an impenetrable hedge of protection around your family. God will slay the vultures on your behalf as he refuses to sit idly by and watch His children devoured by the enemy.
But, the key here is that God will not enter where He is not welcomed. We are granted the gift of free will. No matter if that freedom is used to do good or evil, it is our choice. Otherwise, we’d be no different from the beasts in the field. You must invite God into your life and your family.
Defend yourself and family against the dangers of the vulturous predator as well as the lurker in the shade. Also, don’t be the shelter that just sits there well intentioned but without ability or effort for seeking out those in need.
Don’t just sit there.
I Am 2nd,