A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennese town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later. As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche.
My brother, Bill, five years my senior, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play big brother and develop art of teasing. My parents were complementary instructors–Mom though me to love the Word of God, and Dad though me to obey it. But, the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily converstaions. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it at all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so lifelike that I would often laugh or cry. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed by John Wyne in particular.
The starnger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietely get up while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places, go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house–not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasionally four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stanger was never confronted.
My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home–not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely (problaly too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrasing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of Good that the stanger did not influnce us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
More than 30 years have passed since the stanger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. He is not early so intriguing to my Dad as he was in those early years.
But, if you walk into my parents den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and look at his pictures. His name?
We always just called him TV.
Meeting the Challange of Parenting In The West An Islamic Perspective
by Ekram Beshir, M.D. and Mohammed Rida Beshir