I would like to rebut Malcolm Gauld’s Maine Voices column (“Happiness should be a byproduct of raising children, not the goal,” July 14).

My parents attended all of my sporting events as well as those of my two brothers. Miraculously, they found the time to discipline us and provide us love.

The idea that promoting happiness, providing love and teaching respect and discipline can’t co-exist is counter to what the science of human relationships tells us.

Good parents are attuned to their children’s needs, respond when needed and back off when children should help themselves. Are some children coddled? Absolutely!

This doesn’t mean parents should be less involved, particularly if their involvement teaches discipline, promotes independence, and models respect within the context of a nurturing relationship.

This black and white thinking — dichotomizing love and discipline — appears to be espoused by Gauld as well as the parents he criticizes. This is the true fallacy.

Brian Cavanaugh

Spending could be cut if politicians were serious 

When I was young, my father taught me to save my earnings as a newspaper carrier so I could buy what I might want later. Today, we have credit cards, meaning we no longer need to save money to spend for what we want. Government is no exception.

If Congress votes to either reduce spending or increase revenue (taxes) or both in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling, it still does not reduce the size of government. What our representatives fail to recognize is our government is too big. Our founders believed in a limited government and not a supreme ruler over the states.

If Congress is truly serious about reducing the size of our government, it could start by eliminating the departments of Education (each state already has its own), Energy and Commerce, and start closing some of the more than 700 military bases we have around the world.

We can no longer be policeman to all countries.

However, I believe both Democrats and Republicans really are not serious about reducing the size of government, but prefer to “kick the can down the road,” as President Obama recently said, for our future generations to resolve.

There is a loss of confidence in government and, as former President Reagan previously mentioned, government is not the solution — it is the problem.

Richard Bernard

Definition of marriage strikes dissonant chord 

I’m writing to respond to Pastor Sandy Williams’s letter on July 12 stating that same-sex marriage is a contradiction.

I ask, according to whom? Why must anybody believe that “real marriage” is not the union of two people who are in love, but of a male and female who are in love?

It’s incredibly arbitrary and wrong to assume that such a bond can only exist among some individuals on the basis of a difference in biological structure.

People of all religious viewpoints should recognize that a successful marriage depends on the compatibility of two people, and that alone.

Closing that truth leads to unhappier relationships, and that’s a possibility that should worry Mainers far more than “counterfeit marriage.”

Conor Beck
South Portland

I find it fascinating that the only criterion, according to Pastor Sandy Williams, for a marriage to be legitimate is that the couple has both male and female sex organs.

The Constitution guarantees that a church may choose to marry whatever couples it chooses. I would not choose to attend or attempt to marry in Williams’church. What my partner and I want is a civil marriage. You can define marriage any way you want in your religious tradition, but that doesn’t mean you get to define it for everyone.

In 2012, when the voters of Maine vote on civil marriage for all Mainers, I am hopeful that my partner of 18 years and I will finally be allowed to have the same legal recognition and benefits that opposite-sex married couples now enjoy.

We do agree on one thing: I too hope the public debates will be civil and significant, not the silly fear mongering tactics that we endured last time.

Sarah Dowling

Donated Dental Services worthy of state funding 

As a volunteer dentist with the Donated Dental Services program, I was happy to see the Maine Legislature chose to keep the program’s $40,000 funding in the state budget.

In early discussions, Donated Dental Services funding was cut. This made no sense to me because the small state contribution for a single statewide care coordinator has multiplied into millions of dollars of free dental care for a very vulnerable population.

Our 154 volunteer dentists and 14 volunteer dental labs in Donated Dental Services help people who can’t afford care and don’t receive MaineCare dental benefits.

We treat adults with disabilities and the older population. Many of those we treat have gone without dental care for years and have complex and costly issues.

Some of the people we see need extensive work. We may provide free care to them over many months of treatment. Often these people are looking for a job, but their chronic tooth pain or disfigured teeth make it impossible to be hired.

In the end, our volunteer work is a great reward to each of us too, as we see people leave our offices with a new, positive outlook and a good chance of finding work and making a contribution to our state.

State legislators have many programs to choose from to include in the budget. In the decision to retain the funding for Donated Dental Services, the policymakers guaranteed that this important program will continue to provide free dental care.

For that, I am grateful and want to take this opportunity to thank you.

Michael Bufo, D.M.D.