We send messages each and every day. Messages to our friends, spouses, children, neighbors, fellow church members, community members–the list is endless.
We send these messages verbally and non-verbally. They can either build-up, be neutral or tear-down.
Our children, in particular, are watching us. They are listening to our every word (even when it seems as though they are not). They hear the inflection in our tone. They see the looks in our eyes. They read us better than we think that they do.
Of course this goes for both mothers and fathers, but I want to focus on fathers here for a few minutes.
Children need their fathers to be speaking positive things into their lives: love, guidance, instruction, and yes, even discipline. But the world is full of a staggering amount of fatherless children. And the statistics are grim regarding these young lives.
Many homes do not have fathers to eat dinner with. To play ball with. To read a book to them at night.
Take just that action for a moment. I know of several daddies that are wonderful about taking the time to read to their children, even their infant children. They realize the important benefit of this on several levels:
- The importance of being read to–the literary benefit
- The importance of time spent between a father and a child
- The importance of memories shared of both that time and the books read together.
I admire these fathers tremendously who, after a long day of work, will take the time to read their child a book before bedtime.
But there are many children who don’t get to experience that special bonding. Some of those children are children with incarcerated parents.
This breaks my heart on two levels. First, the children that miss out on all sorts of father-related bonding and activities on a daily basis due to a father’s crime and subsequent imprisonment.
But it also breaks my heart for the fathers. Yes, they deserve the consequences of their behavior. But they, too, are missing out on the amazing opportunity to be a presence in a young child’s life.
That’s why I am so supportive of The Messages Project.
This project sends volunteers into prisons with cameras and children’s books. They actually tape the inmates reading a child’s book to their child, and then mail that child the tape along with the book. This way, through technology, a child can treasure both a book and the reading of that book by their father. And the father receives some loving guidance on how to communicate with their child (if allowed) and the opportunity to give a long-lasting and cherished gift.
I have four “children” (teens now) who know the pain of an incarcerated father. They have missed out on much. Yes, they receive occasional letters from their father, but they no longer really know who he is. And they’ve missed out on all sorts of father activities.
Because of this, and because reading is so important to me, I see the strong value in this project. I’m excited to be able to be a very small part of it, and hope that if time allows in the future that I can become even more involved.
What can you do to be a part of this program?
- If you have gently loved children’s books, the program is always in need of a fresh supply. This is because the book is given to the child along with the tape. So books are always in demand. If you are local, you can get them to me and I will mail them to the director of The Messages Project
- If you are not local, you can contact me and I’ll let you know how to get your books to the right place
- Shipping is expensive. If you can help out with shipping the books to The Messages Office, that too would be very helpful
- You can like their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/messagesproject This will keep you updated on the work that is being done.
The Messages Project is about so much more than just books. It’s about creating Messages, Mending Hearts and Rebuilding Families. Literature is just one aspect of that. But literature is an important and beautiful aspect. When shared, it does have the ability to send messages to our children, it does help to mend hearts and it can help to rebuild healthy families.
A huge thanks to Carolyn LeCroy, the originator and director of this great project, as well as the author of the book A Parent’s Message.