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Hammer or handshake ...

Big or small issues, I learn how to treat aspects of my life through the direct and indirect influences of my children.

The politicians and powers-that-be should visit with my daughter. She was given a hand-me-down skirt. It was fairly new, white, stylish, fit well, and she liked it. I saw it on her for the first time. I closed my wide-open jaw so hard that I almost lost my tongue. That mini-skirt showed off my daughter's legs almost up to her armpits. Actually, back in college, I used to date girls who wore clothes like that. But, my daughter?! I know that is not what a under-aged girl should wear. I thought that she knew it, too. The hammer almost fell, but I wisely kept quiet. That is a rare thing for me.

She wore the skirt with a very nice blouse, nice shoes and a matching handbag ... to church. Holding my wrath began paying off. She did not sit comfortably without holding the handbag in her lap. She did not climb the stairs until everyone had gone before her. The compliments on her appearance were a little stilted. After church she did not really want to hang around and visit. At home, she changed clothes, and life went on a little more smoothly. Because I knew what was right, but by letting her learn on her own, I can now shake her hand without her feeling like I just hit her with a hammer.

I have gotten "hit by a hammer" by some people on both sides of the South Dakota abortion issue. After I reel backwards, I sometimes get the chance to state my stance. The people in favor of the passed law sometime give a weak apology for biting at me. The people opposed to the law rarely hear my opinion. On the other hand, I have pleasantly listened to some who know what is right, yet still want to know my opinion - they are pleased. The extremists do not increase my friendship toward them. If I were my daughter, I would wear that mini-skirt just to rebel against the "hammer" of an self-righteous father. My daughter gets hugs when I know that she knows what is right.

Abortion! Pro or con?

Now, did you really ask for my opinion, or are you setting me up for a hammer blow? There may be valid reasons for abortions; a birth-control method is not one of them. I know what my vote will be. I will quietly smile when the out-of-state-financed lobbyists lose come election day. I will be disheartened by the percentage of people who vote the other way. I will shake hands with some of the winners; the other winners might still be carrying a hammer. I will shake hands with some of the losers; they are my friends and have a right to their opinion, even though I disagree with them. Some losers will be sore losers.

My love for my daughter is too great to jeopardize it over things that she will learn anyway. She is my daughter, not my enemy. I will probably hate some of the things that she does, but I will love her. That is the real vote that I will cast when I die, on my final election day.