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.

Happy Marriage

In taking Marriage & Family classes for over a year now, in observing marriages over my lifetime, and most importantly being in a marriage for almost 20 years I can say love, service and settling  are essential to creating a happy marriage. The word settle can have negative connotations, and that is not what I mean.  Your husband should value God, religion, marriage, education, work and family.  He should have morals, conviction, integrity, faith, and respect for you and others.  But after that, after recognizing a good man, you can’t expect them to be everything else.  

So he doesn’t bring you flowers, or tell funny jokes that impress people.  He leaves socks on the floor and dishes on the table.  He forgets family prayer and doesn’t like your favorite frozen yogurt shop.  These are not deal breakers.  An unsourced quote says, “When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be”.   You married him for a reason, remember those reasons.  Realize he has shortcomings and so do you, that is one of the purposes for marriage, to help, teach and cheer each other on.  To recognize the truly important things in life and let go of your vision of the perfect man.  The one who doesn’t exist.

At times a marriage is smooth sailing, and other times hard work.  Sometimes the husband is pulling the weight, and other times the wife.  Trials in life aren’t a possibility but a surety.  Commitment to the marriage and God’s plan for your family will carry you through if you are willing to do what it takes.  In the text, ‘Successful Marriages and Families’ it states, “Long term commitment will carry you through the ups and down of married life.  Most who consistently invest in their marriages will do very well over the long term.  A lasting marriage is the reward, usually, of hard work and self-sacrifice”.

When your marriage is cemented in God and Jesus Christ, you have a much better chance of surviving the trials and heartaches of life.  “Think about the multi-faceted diamond. When a diamond is completed surrounded by light every part of it shines. Think about that for a minute and compare it to marriage. When our marriage is completely surrounded by light—in other words when we’ve given every part of it over to God–we discover beauty on every side. That’s what He wants us to do. God doesn’t want us to look back. He doesn’t want us to focus on the romance we had, the kids that grew up, the job that we lost, or the home that we still can’t afford” – Darlene Schacht

I guess in the end it’s about focus.  Focusing on the positives, working on the negatives and forgetting those things that can’t and don’t really need to be changed.  Focus on your dreams, your goals, on each other and on God.  When your focus and commitments are aligned with God and his plan for you, happiness will come. 


What does a partnership look like in marriage today?  Do two people have to be equal to make a marriage work? The text in chapter 4 of ‘Successful Marriages and Families’ states it so perfectly “Equality is all too often used to mean “identity”; that is, that two equal things must be identical to each other.  Such usage represents a fallen and harmful understanding of equality that is espoused by Lucifer, who passionately wants all to be “like himself”.

We see examples everyday of women wanting to be identical to men.  They join the military, they climb the corporate ladder, they are even in the boxing ring. Why is it that woman today insist on being just like men?  Why do they not feel confident & worthy enough in their own God given talents and skills.

The Family Proclamation states that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in live and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners”.

Equal does not mean we have to change to try and keep up with each other.  Equal means we are different in our talents but equal in our contributions.

Perfectly said by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony.  All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole”.

In my own marriage I’ve stayed at home with the children while my husband has always had a career.  I’ve cleaned the house while he’s cleaned the garage.  I sweep he irons.  I pack beach lunches while he packs the car.  I keep up with our family photos, he fixes the car and computer. It goes on and on.  There are some things I am better at, and some he is.  I know he is grateful for all I do and I am grateful to him as well.  I never get upset that I don’t have his talents, in fact I am so grateful that we each have different strengths to bring into our marriage.  Not all couples are going to look like my husband and I.  Some may even be good at the same things. But by rejoicing in our differences we can get so much more accomplished. By working together we make each others life complete.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Wedding days are filled with food, flowers, beautiful gowns and lots of smiles.  The focus is on the happy couple and the love they want today and forever.  Today is easy, they are in love, but what about all the days filled with children, trials, stress and change that surely is to come?

I know two couples, each dealt with heavy trials, one marriage lasted, one did not.  They both experienced the death of a child, job loss, a husband's betrayal, health issues and the multiple trials daily of life.  One couple was committed to the marriage.  They both took steps to receive counseling and work through their problems using the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  They changed and forgave.  They sacrificed and worked.  They made it.

The other couple tried to work on their marriage, but only one was willing.  Over a dozen years passed before the wife realized she alone could not change her husbands mind, he had to do that on his own. After 17 years of marriage and 4 children, they divorced.

What does it mean to endure?  Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy said this, "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.  You shield it and protect it.  You never abuse it.  You don't expose it to the elements.  You don't make it common or ordinary.  If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleans like new.  It becomes special because you have made it to, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.  Eternal marriage is just like that.  We need to treat it just that way".

What does this look like on a day to day basis?  In discussing this with friends I had one who said this, "Whenever I get a drink I ask my husband if he wants one as well.  I make an effort every day to let him know I am thinking of him".  Another said, "Let's get one thing straight, the big stuff, like affairs, don't just happen.  If we were to do an autopsy on the big things like affairs, we would find a trail of little things that were never dealt with that lead individuals and marriages to major failures".  In my own marriage it means praying as a couple, watching movies I would never pick that he loves and making the time to cook meals as I know how much my husband appreciates it.

President Monson also believes small acts can make a huge difference, he says, "Think to thank.  In these three words are the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness".


Are we done with dating?  Is hanging out the way of the future?  And if so, is this a smart move for this next generation?

I remember going out on my first date.  I was so excited and felt so special.  I remember going out on my second and third date as well.  I remember the excitement, anticipation and the learning curve that goes along with interacting, communicating and getting to know someone of the opposite sex in a different setting other than school or mutual.

In the book 'Successful Marriages and Families' it states, "One of the biggest changes in the current young adult culture is the disappearance of dating.  Several studies have found that traditional dating, where the man asks the woman out on a date and pays for the evening together, is becoming rare.... Young women and men more often "hang out" rather than go on planned dates".  It goes on to say, "Most Latter-day Saint young adults know that Church leaders discourage hanging out, and we have found in our current research that the kind of endless, making-no-progress-towards-a-relationship hanging out is indeed frustrating to both men and women".

Elder M. Russell Ballard has said,  "Don’t text her! Use your own voice to introduce yourself to the righteous daughters of God who are all around you. To actually hear a human voice will shock her—perhaps into saying yes".

Dating is a good thing.  A worthwhile way get to know each other.  Asking a girl out on a date helps you to gain courage and strength.  Do not take the easy way out and text a message to hang out.  Boys, you can only gain access to manhood by taking chances and putting yourself out there.  By doing the work that needs to be done by planing a simple date, calling a girl and asking her out.  Girls, you can encourage this behavior by getting to know boys, even the ones you think you may not be interested in.  By accepting dates and by developing qualities in yourself that will be attractive to others.

When we put thought into a date it shows others we care, that we are interested in them, that we can plan an activity and are interesting enough to be with on that activity.  It is a way for young men and women to interact and find out through the experience of dating what they like in a partner, and more importantly, what they should be doing to improve themselves.

Those days of dating were some of the best experiences of my life.  I learned so much about myself and others.  It helped me realize the traits that were important in the person I wanted to marry  I dated funny, spontaneous and shy boys.  I also dated a boy who was jealous, controlling and disrespectful.  I learned very fast that was not the kind of person I wanted to marry.  Because of that boy I knew when I met my now husband who is very kind, easy going and extremely respectful to those around him, that he would make me happy for a very long time.

So maybe all of your dates won't be fantastic.  But they will always teach you something.

The Path to Marriage

My personal experience growing up was one where I saw marriage as a worthy goal and had positive examples of what a marriage was, as well as negative examples.  As with many couples, both of these examples were in the same marriage, my parent's.

In life today young people are greatly influenced by their elders examples and look to the older generation to see what exactly a marriage is and how to get there. Unfortunately divorce is very common today and the less examples of a happy, stable marriage that is shown, the more ill-equipped couples getting married today will be in their own marriages.

So how do we prepare young men and women for marriage?  How can we not only influence our own children and family but those outside of our religion as well to view marriage as a sacred and worthwhile goal?

According to the text in 'Successful Marriages and Families' "There are certain personal characteristics or traits that happily married spouses have developed...... that began to get developed during adolescence and young adulthood.  Scholars have found that young adults' readiness for marriage is largely determined by their ability to love and communicate".

What this means is that the responsibility is on us, the married couples of the world, to show the next generation how we communicate that love, how important marriage is to us.  Regardless of how many bad or broken marriages there may be, we all have the power to influence others by our example.  We are friends, neighbors, teachers, and associates.  We can show love to our spouse through a thoughtful comment when your child's friend is over playing, or we can post a loving act of service on social media.  These are very different ways to be an example, but all are needed if we are to put a positive example out to the world of love and marriage.

The path to marriage starts with us and the kind of person we can be.  We cannot add to another's life either in marriage or by example, if we do not have a testimony of God. Jeffrey R. Holland said,

"Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity?  Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint.  Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does.  You separate dating from discipleship at your peril". 

As I said, I saw good and bad examples of communication in a marriage. Fortunately I saw enough good things combined with my own testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I desired to get married to a kind and loving man that would honor, respect and love me.

I now feel an obligation not only to my husband, but to society as a whole to be an example and show others what a wonderful thing a marriage can be.