Monday, September 7, 2015

Wholesome Recreation

Author Richard Louv argues that individuals and families have become disconnected from nature and consequently are suffering from what he calls Nature Deficit Disorder.  Today, families are increasingly spending large amounts of leisure time indoors, usually spending that time with electronic media.

When my children were young I would get up at 6 am to go running.  One day my 5 year old daughter, my oldest, had gotten up, went downstairs and turned on the TV.  When I realized that she was capable of this every time I went running I got rid of our television.  It might seem extreme to some, but we didn't watch it much anyway. 

Cut to 9 years later and not only do we have 2 t.v.'s, but they are the least of my worries.  My daughter is 14 now and has a cell phone.  We also have an ipad, a laptop and 2 computers.  I realize what a simple solution I had all those years ago and how hard it is to manage media time now.  I am pretty strict about technology in our home, but it's a tricky balance that I am still working on.

One thing I am glad we implemented was no technology on Sunday.  As busy as we can get during the week we set all phones, tv time and comptuer time aside for the day.  We go to church, read, play games, nap and just be together as a family.

In the 'Successful Marriages and Family' text it discusses how wholesome recreation is important for families.  But what exactly is wholesome recreation?  It doesn't have to be hiking, or game playing, or constantly engaged in conversation.  Wholesome recreation means being together for an extended period of time in the outdoors reconnecting with each other.

Our weeks, like most people, are busy.  But a few nights a week we take our dog on a walk, this morning my husband and I took our son on a run.  We play music in the backyard and jump on the trampoline, we swim, surf, and picnic.

I know not everyone has an ocean or a pool, but we all have access to being outside and should make a priority to make it happen.  Our kids feel the love we have for them when we limit their distractions as well as our own, and just be a family, talking, laughing, running around enjoying nature.  I have a testimony of all the good and bonding that happens when families spend this time with God's creations.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Family Work

"Ordinary household work that is often considered a waste of time can be a time of closeness and fun that strengthens family bonds and develops Christlike virtues".- text

I know in our family that chore time also means family crying and arguing time.  Whose doing what, someone has an easier job, someone's doing more, someones being mean and nothing is ever fair.  Why is organizing our home into a clean and peaceful place such a messy and loud process?

Gordon B. Hinckley listed families working together as one of four things that could "in a generation or two" turn society's "moral values" around.  If that's not a good reason to figure out this whole 'working together' thing, I don't know what is.

I remember being a kid and thinking I did more work than anyone.  I now know I was wrong.  In the past I would lose my cool when my kids started bickering about who was doing what when it came to housework, now I stay calm if it kills me.  How can they stay calm if I am a mess?  I give them a long list with boxes to check off and have them put their names one by one, to sign up for chores.  So far this system has helped out a lot.

Jacqueline Curtis from the blog Money Crashers suggest these tips for not only helping kids get chores done, but for helping them understand the reasoning behind it.

1. Treat School Like a Job
If your kids are in school and bring home homework, teach them to treat it like a job. The teacher is the boss and your children have the responsibility to keep up with schoolwork and do their best. School is probably one of the first experiences your child will have with developing a work ethic. By creating clear rules and consequences around schoolwork completion and effort, you help start your child on the right path to understanding the value – and reward – of hard work.

2. Put Work on the Schedule
Rather than making a special Saturday where you have to goad your kids into pitching in, simply make helping out part of their regular schedule. For instance, if your kids know that they have to make their beds and tidy their rooms every day before coming to breakfast, it becomes much less of a fight to get them to do it. Instead of being a casual happening, work becomes an expectation, rather than a chore.

3. Work Together
Kids understand the value of teamwork, even as they’re just starting to grasp the value of hard work. Without an adult to help keep them on track and interested, they’re liable to fizzle and find something else to do. Be ready to pitch in and help alongside to teach that work doesn’t have to be boring or isolated.

4. Don’t Use Bribes
Instead of bribing with food and other rewards, talk about why you’re doing the work: “We need to fold the laundry so we have clean clothes to wear.” This helps kids understand the real-life reasons for work and use that as inspiration.

5. Allow Consequences
It’s hard to watch your kids suffer the unpleasant consequences of a lack of work ethic – so much so that you might be tempted to step in and take the blame. But robbing your kids of those negative consequences teaches them that a lack of work ethic doesn’t affect much.
If your child whines that he or she can’t find a specific article of clothing, explain that if his or her room was more organized, it wouldn’t be so difficult to locate. Don’t just step in and scour the room yourself. If a teacher tells you that your child is falling behind in class, talk to your child about extra work to make up the difference, rather than making excuses. A couple of times facing negative consequences and your kids will quickly learn what happens when they don’t do their work.

6. Model the Behavior
Finally, if you really want your kids to develop a solid work ethic, model the behavior yourself. Show that you appreciate hard work through offering praise when your kids pitch in, and show that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty around the house. After all, it’s pretty hard to ask your kids to help out when you’re ordering from the comfort of your couch. Instead, check your attitude and take a more positive outlook on work – you’ll probably find that your kids follow suit.

As the text and #6 suggests, Family work becomes a joyful blessing when not seen as a burden, but an opportunity to learn and grow together as a family and in responsibility.  This is not easy and takes time and practice, but I know as we model hard work and hold our kids responsible, we will make their future better, as well as our home right now.
Image result for comic on work

Faith in Family Life

Hilary Clinton wrote a book titled, "It Takes a Village" in 1996, the year I got married.  At the time I had goals of being a stay at home mom and thought it insulting that my children would need anyone but me to care for them.  With the support of my husband, family and faith, I did obtain my dream of being a stay at home mom and it was better than I ever expected.

My husband and I were both raised as Latter Day Saints and were on the same page when it came to our goals, values, morals and what we wanted for our family.  Before we married we discussed that when we had kids I would stay at home with them.  After 4 years of marriage, when my husband graduated college and secured a job, but still renting an apartment, we welcomed our first daughter in November 2000. Five years later we had added another daughter and a son.  I was beyond busy with my kids but loved being a stay at home mom more than anything.

I took pride that my kids rarely had a babysitter and never went to pre-school, it was just us and it was perfect.  Cut to 2015 and all of my kids are in school full day.  I've taken a part time job and also am taking 1 or 2 online college classes a semester.  What I am saying is life is busy and I need that village now, the one I thought I didn't need.

Could I do it all myself?  Sure!  But my son walking with a neighbor to school means I can actually be on time to work. Carpooling with another mom to mutual, scouts and sports means more time for me to study uninterrupted.

Through putting my faith in others, in and out of my church, I have come to rely on my 'village' of women who help, support and assist me as I do the same for them.  In this both our families are blessed.

I am so glad I followed the counsel to marry in the temple to a man who would honor the Family Proclamation by providing for our family so I could raise, care for and nurture our children in our home.  I am also grateful for our extended church family who assists us in all we need.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Practices in Fathering

My father taught me a lot in what I wanted for my kids father.  Mostly though he taught me what I didn't want.  I didn't want someone who was distant like him.  Who didn't hug me and tell me he loved me.  Who didn't really pay attention to me or know anything about me.

The Proclamation to the Family states that "Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness", echoing President Benson when he said "God established that fathers are to preside in the home.  Fathers are to provide love, teach, and direct".

Different fathers have different methods for presiding, loving, teaching and even providing for their families, and the diversity is needed to cater to the differences in children and personalities. But there are universal truths and I found one while reading 'Successful Marriages and Families'. In the text of chapter 13 I read a line that I couldn't wait to read the answer to, the question was, "What is a child's greatest need?"  As I read the answer I knew it was true, "The greatest need of any child is security.  A sense of security is perhaps the most fundamental of all human needs in a variety of ways, but is it primary and intensive for children".

Security is far more reaching than monsters under a bed.  To a child it means, 'You will return from work.  We will pray as a family every night.  You will care about who my friends are.  What matters to me will matter to you, even if it doesn't really matter to you.  You will care about me even when I am misbehaving.  You will treat my mom with love and respect.  You will laugh with me.  You will be there'.

So many times in my own life I didn't feel secure.  I felt physically secure, but not emotionally.  Not at all.  I was ill prepared to date because I didn't know how to talk to boys.  I didn't know what I should expect form them because I didn't see it emulated.  I didn't know that fathers were supposed to have PPI's, FHE's and talk to their kids face to face, eye to eye.  I didn't know a father could take you to ice cream just because he wanted to and ask you about all your hopes and dreams. 

When I met my husband I knew right away he was a catch.  He treated his mother with love and respect.  He played with his nieces and nephews.  We had conversations, real conversations.  I was communicating with a man for the first time in my life other than getting yelled at to clean my room!  It was amazing.  Most importantly he was a righteous man, one who honored his priesthood and I knew would not only take care of our future family, but make us all feel safe and secure.

The text states, "Fathers have the ability, for good or ill, to exercise great power and influence in the lives of their children and families.  They bless only by the exercise of power in righteousness.  This is especially true of the exercise of priesthood power.  To be a holy figure in the life of a child, in the life of a family, requires an association with powers that exist beyond our own mortal abilities".

I am thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that I learned how important the Priesthood was.  How important serving a mission was.  How important it was for a man to love, respect, honor and take care of his wife and family.  I love my husband so much and feel so grateful to be married to such a wonderful man.  Thankful too that I have the opportunity to parent with him and that we can help each other in our journey through parenthood.  He is not perfect, and neither am I, so communication is key for us to discuss things we want to do while parenting our children.

But all those things I wanted as a kid he does for my own kids, so I feel very, very blessed.

Mother as Nurturers

I remember coming home one day in 5th grade, when my best friend suddenly and out of nowhere turned her back on me.  It was a devastating time in my life, I was only 10 years old, my heart was broken.  I remember my mother sat rocking me for a very long time.  She was very busy with my 4 little brothers, and I tried not to take up too much of her time, but I was crushed and needed her desperately.  I knew there was no one who could make it better.  Not my dad or my sisters or my other friends.  I knew even my mom couldn’t fix it, but I knew as I sat in her lap at 10 years old, that her love and her arms could take some of that sting away.
Mothers have the most challenging, most noble calling on earth; to love, care for, teach, and as the Family Proclamation states, “to nurture”.  The dictionary defines nurture as ‘the care and attention given to someone or something that is growing or developing’.

Satan has tried to devalue a mother’s role many different ways.  One way came in the form of feminist Betty Friedan who asked women, “Why should you accept a half-life, instead of share in the whole of human destiny?”  This is by far one of Satan’s strongest tools against the family, to devalue a woman’s work in the home.

We are taught today that we should dream outside of the walls of our home, to aspire to more, to make a ‘real’ contribution to the world.

By contrast our Heavenly Father has let us know our value through his trusted leaders, one statement said, “Motherhood is near to divinity.  It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed and service next to the angels”.

Most women can give birth, but what does it mean to be a mother.  President Kimball has said, “Mothers have a sacred role.  They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands”.  When we understand that our role is vital to raising the next generation, we can feel confident in our worth and in our decisions.
David O. McKay declared, “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life.  The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind.  It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world”.

When we understand our responsibility and our partnership with God it is easier to practice patience, be thoughtful to those tantrums, commit to family home evening and nurture those little ones with so much love that they will grow big and strong.

There is no work in which the Lord takes greater interest than in the nurturing and rearing of our children.  Because of that, we can be assured that He will strengthen mothers in their holy calling.  Truly, motherhood places her who honors its holy work next to the angels, for nothing could be of greater significance to God than the nurturing of His little ones  - His precious children.

Parenting in the Gospel

Before my children were born my husband and I lived the gospel and had the spirit in our home.  Now that we are parents to a 14 year old, a 12 year old and a 10 year old I am so thankful everyday that a loving Heavenly Father has provided us with His guidance so we can raise our children the way He would want us to and with His help.

According the Family Proclamation we, as husband and wife, are to raise our children in love and righteousness.   Love comes easy as all parents love their children, but what does it mean to raise them in righteousness?  What does it mean to provide for their spiritual needs?  

The Proclamation states,  “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.   (As parents we are ) to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live”.

We can teach our children to pray to God when they are very young, giving thanks for all they have and forming  a relationship with their Heavenly Father.  Through this they can learn to have more gratitude in live and in their home.  Repentance can also be learned at a young age as children make many mistakes.  As they learn correct behavior we can teach them how to repent and make better choices next time.  Respect, love, compassion and work are all qualities that can be emulated by us as parents who set the stage for the behavior our children should emulate.  

Going to church, serving in a calling, strengthening our testimonies through gospel study, participating with our children in Faith in God, Personal Progress and looking to the ‘For Strength of Youth’ for guidelines are all things that will further the spirit in a home and bring the family closer together.

Elder Robert D. Hales has taught, “The key to strengthening our families is having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes”.  By following the counsel of our leaders and the guidance of the Proclamation we can do just this.  Family Home Evening, dinners eaten together, teaching to share and work disagreements out in a respectful , loving manner and spending time together doing wholesome activities are all things that promote unity and bring the spirit into our home and help us all live the gospel more fully.

President Hinckley said, “As children grow through the years, their lives, in large measure, become an extension and a reflection of the family teaching.  If there is forbearance, forgiveness, respect, consideration, kindness, mercy, and compassion, the fruits will be discernible, and they will be eternally rewarding. They will be positive and sweet and wonderful”.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Parenting with Love

Growing up so much was expected of me. We had a family of 11 and there were dishes to do, laundry to be folded  and meals to be cooked it seemed at all times.  I rarely played with friends, I was punished when not obedient, and I made my own money starting at 11 for clothes and toiletries, eventually paying cash for a car (insurance and gas included) by 20. I walked to school starting in Kindergarten with maybe a ride thrown in once or twice a year.  I never had my own room and I had to share all my toys with 4 little brothers.

I do use my childhood hardships to my advantage when talking to my own kids, but the truth is, it was a very happy childhood.  There was no place I'd rather be than at home with my siblings and my parents.  Whether we were running in the sprinklers in the backyard or having a lively discussion at the dinner table, there was always a lot of love and warmth in my home.  Since I grew up with parents who had testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we also had the spirit which was very much felt.

There were rules, discipline and consequences in my home growing up, but I still felt loved, how is this?  It has been proven that for children's optimal development that they be reared in love and righteousness that involves love, warmth and support, but also has limits and boundaries.

Elder Joe J. Christensen counseled, "We should avoid spoiling children by giving them too much. In our day, many children grow up with distorted values because we as parents overindulge them..... One of the most important things we can teach our children is to deny themselves.  Instant gratification generally makes for weak people".

Having been a recipient of parents who lived by this quote, I can say I am so very thankful for parents who held me accountable for chores, who gave me a curfew, responsibilities, consequences and who made me work very hard for everything I had.  The only thing I didn't have to work for was their love.  I felt it in time spent as a family, teaching moments, family baseball games, Saturday morning crepes, family home evenings, and lots of laughter in between.

We didn't have a lot financially growing up, but it just makes me appreciate that much more what I have today.  I am so thankful to have had parents who had expectations for us and realized love doesn't mean spoiling.