Saturday, April 2, 2011



      This week was a harder topic.... we talked about divorce and stepfamilies. It was quite the discussion. Our professor's wife was divorced with two children when he met her, so he had her come in as a guest speaker for the class. She was really brave to just come right into the class and say okay go ahead and ask whatever you want. We talked about several things, getting back into dating after a divorce, how that was different from dating before she was married the first time, how to introduce her then-boyfriend to her children, deciding how discipline and things like that would go with a step parent. There are just so many things that are affected by a divorce. It all seemed so hard and complicated. But she was able to work things out and now they are a happy family. One of the points we covered is to realize that stepfamilies are totally different from nuclear families (families with both biological parents in the home with the children). They are differently structured, especially if the children are older. It may take awhile for the children to feel comfortable having a relationship with the stepparent, and maybe they are afraid of that stepparent replacing their biological parent. Deciding what kind of relationship children and stepparents will have is very complicated. So we talked about how the married couple must be doing their best to communicate with each other as they strive to build their marriage and create appropriate relationships with the children.
     Another struggle in our culture specifically is the stigma that comes with being divorced. Our professor's wife, Sister Williams, said  that she had a good friend who's mother told her not to hang out with sister Williams any more because she was a divorcee (she was only 20 when she was divorced, so she probably still had some young friends who's mothers still had a strong say in what they did ). She also said that every week in church she would be asked in Relief Society if she was new to the ward. How discouraging. These people all looked down on her because she was divorced. But she told us some things about her situation with her husband and it was not a good one. He was very emotionally abusive to her and it was not a good situation for her to be in. It was appropriate for her to leave the situation so that she could be in a more positive one for herself and her children in the one she is in now with Brother Williams. So I just feel that it is so important, with divorce or anything else in the church, to be accepting of others and not judge them for their decision to leave. Something that I've come to realize as I strive to be better in not being judgmental is that whatever they did and whatever my opinion is about it, I don't need to worry because it's not going to affect my salvation. No matter if they decided they just weren't having fun any more and thought, hey I'll just check out of this marriage, or if they tried everything they possibly could and still couldn't make things work and they fasted and prayed and sought guidance from priesthood leaders and everything they could do; it doesn't matter. I just need to love them and offer them support. It's not my place to judge them or try to teach them a sermon, it's just my place to love them. Sorry, that ended up being more directed at me, I'm sure all of you are much better at not judging then I am!
     One more thing I wanted to mention that Sister Williams said is how she dated differently before her first marriage and after her divorce. She said after her divorce she was much more focused on important things and was going by the spirit every step of the way. When she married the first time she said she didn't particularly have deep roots in the gospel, she believed it but was kind of passive about it and it seemed like a good idea to marry this cute guy, so she did. The second time she was much more concerned about the Lord's input and about if the guy was a returned missionary and a strong member of the church and all of those things. So I think for those of us not married (not many that I've told to read this blog :) ) it's important to review the things we are looking for in a spouse.
Thanks for listening!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Have You Got Style?

     Parenting style, that is. Although it would be nice to have good style fashion wise as well. Hopefully I will have some someday!
      So, this week we discussed a specific parenting style. This style is called "Active Parenting" by Michael Popkin. This style discusses the fact that there are un-met needs behind child's misbehaviors. So the way to solve them is to address the unmet need, not necessarily the misbehavior. I'll give some examples...
     Say a child is constantly spending hours on the computer or in front of the TV when they are in the middle of final tests at school. You've tried everything to get them to work on homework. You've threatened with punishment, bribed, cajoled, pleaded, been angry... but nothing has had any effect. You don't know what to do with this kid. So lets define the behavior-- they are showing undue avoidance. They are avoiding stressful or difficult situations. And what is their unmet need that is driving this behavior? They need to have positive withdrawal. We all need to take breaks. We all need a moment to relax, breath for a moment, get our thoughts together. Especially during stressful times. But we need to have appropriate withdrawals. Instead of avoiding situations, we need to take a break and then get back to things. But this child doesn't know how to appropriately withdraw, so they just avoid. So what you need to teach this child is how to withdraw from a situation and come back, instead of just avoiding it.  You can do this by setting an example, by coming in and saying, what do you say we spend an hour working in the yard and then go grab a jamba juice for a break before we finish the yard? Teach proper withdrawal also by withdrawing appropriately yourself. If you spend hours in front of the computer when you are stressed, thats how your children will learn to handle it.
        Other examples would include children rebelling, or trying to control others. Their unmet need is to have power, power over themselves and over their environment. So you give them choices--choices that are age and situation appropriate so they can have some control over their lives. Children who are seeking undo attention-- like always throwing tantrums to get mom's attention or acting out in school to get parent's attention, or hanging all over a parent, never letting go, being loud and obnoxious, etc.-- these children need to have contact and feel like they belong. This includes physical contact. Parents and others should offer touch and contact freely. After a few weeks of excessive physical touch, the behavior should improve. Or so they said in class. :) You should also teach them to be a contributing part of any group they are in. They need to feel like they belong to whatever group they are in and that they are wanted. This is done by being a benefit to the group, not just trying to get something out of it.
      These are just some examples. I really appreciated this parenting style. When he presented it it seemed so logical. I mean, kids don't go around saying 'oh how can I bother mom today and be the most frustrating?' Kids don't know why they are acting out, they just are. They are just trying to get their needs met. Now I've never parented, but it does seem to make sense. The kids have needs that aren't being mets, so they act in a way that will fulfill those needs. I hope this can help me as I parent!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a Housewife?


                                                                THIS                      VS.                       THIS
    We talked this week about families where both parents work. Of course that led to a discussion of women in the work force... So thats what I wanted to talk about here.
          Obviously we know what the church teaches about women in the workforce. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World gives us guidance on the roles of women in today's world. President Benson said:
       "Since the beginning, a woman’s first and most important role has been ushering into mortality spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven.Since the beginning, her role has been to teach her children eternal gospel principles. She is to provide for her children a haven of security and love—regardless of how modest her circumstances might be. In the beginning, Adam was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow—not Eve. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother’s place is in the home! I recognize there are voices in our midst which would attempt to convince you that these truths are not applicable to our present-day conditions. If you listen and heed, you will be lured away from your principal obligations. Beguiling voices in the world cry out for “alternative life-styles” for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood."
      We believe, according to church doctrine, that a woman's call in life is to be a wife and mother. Her place is to be in the home, raising the children while the husband provides a living. But there are a lot of women today that are a part of the work force. And a lot of those women are LDS. Now, we know that there are a lot of life circumstances thrown at families that create a need for the wife to go to work. The prophets have spoken about that too. And there are probably lots of LDS women out there that stay in the work force after children are born because they just want to be. It doesn't really matter to us what their reasons are. But this issue will probably affect all of us at some point. So what does matter is what we think, what we decide and how we decide to do that. The decision for a wife and mother to work is completely between her, the Lord, and her husband (unless she's a single mom... and then the decision is usually made for her by life!). So the thing I wanted to point out is the importance and sacred nature of the calling of motherhood. No matter what choice you make at whatever time in your life that you are faced with this choice, your job as a wife and a mother should take precedence over any job or career you might have. 
       This has been an issue I've been looking at lately... I want to have my photography business. But I follow a lot of photographer blogs of women who are also mothers and they talk about how busy they are all the time and how they have to juggle that with having children and being a part of their lives. And that is so important to me as well. I've always wanted to be a stay at home mom. But when I got into photography, I was thinking, this will be really good for a stay at home mom to do. But this could so quickly become a career for me. I could easily get carried away and so busy that I would have weddings every weekend and shoots during the week and then add in editing and mailing and advertising and consulting and .... phew. I've just lost my 'stay at home mom' title. Even if my business is in my house, I wouldn't be 'at home'. I would simply be in the house. So its just been on my mind lately. This is a situation I'm going to have to be aware of and careful of if I'm going to be doing this business thing. So just something to think of.
     One more comment. In reading the chapter on this for class, there was one section that really bothered me. It was the end of the chapter and they had been discussing ways that women who work can kind of take care of themselves even if they have pressures of a job and home life. Here is a direct quote from the book:
     "It is interesting to note that self-care strategies include giving oneself permission to be less than perfect as a housekeeper, wife, and mother."
       Okay this is what really bothers me. Now, I'm not saying that we should be so hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up for not being perfect--no way! We should give ourselves some slack. But what bothers me is that these 'self-care strategies' were for working mothers. So what are the areas that they are supposed to give things up? The ones that are most sacred and that are their divine callings. So the self-care strategy that I think we need to use is to give ourselves permission to be less than perfect as an employee. How important is that job? Obviously you need to keep your job, but if you are giving some anywhere, it shouldn't be in the role that is most eternally important for you to fulfill.
     So remember the pictures at the beginning? How about neither on of those and we can do this instead?

        Then we don't have to be crazy stuck in the kitchen wearing pearls and dresses (although wouldn't that be FUN? ...sorry, I love the 40's and 50's) with no rights and just smiling happy for our husbands constantly. And we don't have to be totally driven, focused career women who have no time for their families. We can be in the home like we should and make decisions outside of that with the Lord

Monday, March 14, 2011


      So what we talked about last week can directly relate to this weeks discussion. This week in class we talked about communication within families and the problems and issues that arise because of communication. We also discussed that one good way of communicating is to hold a family council. We'll talk about counseling with our families and how that relates to crisis in just a minute, but I just wanted to touch on a few of the communication problems that we talked about. 
     First off, we have the challenge of nonverbal vs. verbal communication. Think about all the different ways you can say "I love you." You can say it tenderly or passionately as you would to a spouse, you can say it laughingly and happily, as you would to a good friend, you can say it sarcastically or as a question. There are tons of ways to say I love you and they all have a different meaning. But you are saying the same three words each time. So what makes the difference on the meaning? The WAY that you say it... your tone of voice, your facial expression, your body language. It has been estimated that 50-80% of what you're saying is nonverbal (NV). That means that only half or less than half of what you say are your words. When communicating with family members then, it is a challenge to always understand each other when their NV may not match their words. This can be a problem because sometimes you are just tired or upset about something else, so family members may read into your NV when really, you just want to sit down and put your feet up. A  daughter may think her dad really upset with her, when really, he thinks what she is doing is just fine, he just wants to sit down and relax after a long day at work. 
     This brings us to a second problem, which is that of interpreting what others say. We all do it. It's part of how we listen. If we didn't do it, we wouldn't be able to understand what people say. But it is also a problem with communication because we all interpret things differently based on our past experience. So I interpret things differently then even my sister who grew up in the same house as me, with the same parents and is also a girl. We are just different. 
      So there are just two of the issues of communication that we talked about. They are good things to be aware of I think, within a marriage relationship, as well as a family one. And even outside of family, we communicate with tons of people every day and our nonverbal and interpretation affect them too.
    Alright so family councils. We read a talk by Elder Ballard about counseling with our families and it was so good.  It was actually an interview, I guess, with him and his wife. They talked about how you can have a family council very easily. It doesn't always have to include all members of the family, formally sitting together around the table. Elder Ballard talked about how sometimes he would have a council with one of the children as he tucked them into bed and night and discussed their concerns about their lives. The Ballards said that any time two family members are talking together about any kind of problem, incident, issue, etc. (even something simple like keeping the toilet seat up or down), it is a family council. They discussed the benefits to having a council--they said it was very important to involve children in this council because it allows them to have experience in problem solving and helps them be more willing to follow through on the solutions to the problems. If a mother says 'our house is messy all the time and you are going to clean the bathroom and vacuum every week to help out, so hop to it.' That response is likely to be met with rebellion and frustration. But, if the family were to sit down and say, 'our house is often messy and we would like to keep it nice so that the Spirit can more easily dwell here. But mom is busy and doesn't have time to always be the one doing the housework. What do you think we can do to help her out and keep the house clean?' Then you can ask the children for suggestions, sincerely ask them, not just hope they end up at the same conclusion you did. Children can be wise too. So ask them what they think, come up with a plan together, and then they are more likely to be happy to go along with the plan, since they helped create it. (Obviously some children are too young to really be thinking up plans on their own, but it's still okay to include them in the council.) So councils can be very beneficial for a family. It makes the issues and problems that arise, the family's problems and issues. Not just the parents or not just the husband or not just the teenage son's problem. We are a family and we care about what everyone is doing, so we need to all be involved and help to solve the problems.
    One last note  on how this relates to last weeks post... last week I mentioned that we should develop a plan for how to handle crises in our family. Well, what better place to make a plan then in our family councils! It's perfect! (See it's all interconnected :)) So like our family pictured above, who is planning their fire escape route, use family councils to help find answers to problems. And even if it's just husband and wife in the family, councils can still help a lot. Thanks for listening folks!
(If you want to read Elder and Sister Ballard's interview, go here)

Monday, March 7, 2011


      This week we discussed family crisis and how different crises affect different families, etc. Family crises come from sources called stressors. There can be many types of stressors and each stressor affects families differently. Some examples of these stressors would be internal (comes from within the family) vs. external (outside of the family), normative  (expected evens such as birth or marriage of children) vs. nonnormative (divorce, war), Volitional (family seeks them out, such as seeking a new job, a planned pregnancy) vs. Nonvolitional (not sought after such as being laid off).
        There are more categories that these events fall into, but these are just some of them. So lets get real about some stressors. What can they be? Well, they can really be anything. Unemployment, a wedding, starting kindergarten, not making the budget for the month, a death in the family, having to take the car in for repair, getting in a horrible accident.... and on and on. What defines it as a crisis is how the family handles the issue. For example, in class we discussed how families might handle unemployment in different ways. One family might say, 'well, we'll find another job soon and we'll all band together during this time. We'll tighten our budget and everyone will contribute what they can and we'll get through this.' They see the situation more as an opportunity to learn and grow together. Another family might say 'This is an absolute disaster. How will we live? How will we ever find something else?' This is the same situation, but it is affecting these two families differently. Why? Well, of course theres the fact that one family might be generally of a more positive attitude than the other. Or maybe they have fewer kids or had more money saved. There are a lot of reasons that they could be affected differently. But one big reason we considered in class is how many stressors these families are experiencing at one time. Perhaps the first family, the one with a positive outlook is only facing the stressor of  unemployment. But maybe the second family just recently lost a child and is facing unemployment. And they are going to care for their grandmother and have another dependent in the home. This family is facing so many stressors that the unemployment is viewed as a crisis in this situation, where if they were under less stress, it wouldn't be viewed as a crisis. So just some interesting thoughts. For me I think it applied in helping me keep an open mind when looking at others. As my mother always always taught me, you never know what they are going through. You can't know. So be understanding. And I think this can definitely apply here. Not that we really judge those who have just lost a loved one. But maybe we see a family that appears to be breaking down over something that we just don't see to be that big of a deal. But we have no idea how many stressors that family is facing all at the same time. So we should reach out and be loving and accepting and helpful. I guess I shouldn't say 'we' I should say 'I'. Cause I know its me with this problem! And I shouldn't be assigning my issues to all of you :)
     One final point.... from all of this learning we decided in class that it is important to have a plan for how to deal with crises in your family. Because they will come. Even if you try to have a positive outlook. I once had a professor who gave me a questionnaire of questions that she felt should be asked before you married someone. They were questions like 'are you a 100% Visiting or Home Teacher' 'do you struggle with an addiction to pornography or anything else' 'do you hold a current temple recommend' and etc. These are obviously quite personal questions that you wouldn't just ask on the first date. But they would be good to know before marriage! So one of the questions was 'what do you want the other to do when you are scared? Do you want to be held, be left alone, etc.?' I think this is such a good question for this post. You will have family crises, so how will you handle them? Will you hold family councils about it or hide it from your spouse or children? Will you dedicate yourself more fully to the Lord or pull away from the church? Will you have the wife work outside the home if it becomes necessary? Is that an option for you and if it is, is it first choice or last resort? Will you lean on food storage? Will you ask others for help in paying medical bills? Who would you have raise your children if you died? What if you died at a young age, would you have your spouse remarry or ask them not to?  These may be really morbid questions, but I think it's better to have a plan for something, instead of just being hit suddenly by life circumstances. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Responsibility

          Now obviously as parents and family members we have lots of responsibilities. But one that we discussed this week that is one of the greatest we will have is teaching our children about intimacy. That can be kind of an awkward subject, I think we all agree. I still remember my young women leaders would always get all uncomfortable and awkward when that subject would come up in the lesson manual. It is such a personal and private thing that it may be hard to communicate to our children. But we talked in class about how absolutely essential it is to be open with our children. My professor is a marriage and family therapist and he said he remembers counseling a young girl who had some issues, I think she had gotten pregnant maybe, and the parents said that they just didn't want to expose her to anything so they didn't say anything. Well, my professor told them, someone did expose her. And thats what we talked about in class; our children are going to be exposed to sex somehow. We have to take the initiative to make sure our children are finding out about it in the right context, with the right understanding. This includes creating and maintaining an open relationship with our children, so that they can feel comfortable asking us questions and telling us things they might have heard and not understood. This includes being able to talk about any abuse they might have experienced or pornography they might have been exposed to. A man in our class told us that at the age of 6 he had an older boy approach him with a lot of pornography and show it to him. SIX YEARS OLD! This isn't something we can just ignore because it's uncomfortable. We have to be deliberate in teaching our children truths. Help them understand, from a very young age, about modesty and pictures of inappropriately dressed women. Even taking your 4 year old to the grocery store exposes them to pornography just with the magazine racks. We cannot, must not, ignore the fact that our entire world is sexualized and that our children will be facing it on all sides. We need to be teaching them that intimacy is appropriate and good within the bonds of sacred marriage. They need to know how to turn away from inappropriate images, books, movies, music, etc. They need to know the dangers they can face as they start dating and becoming physical with members of the opposite sex. They need to know that others shouldn't be touching them inappropriately and that they should come talk to their parents if anyone does touch them.
Someone will teach your children about sex. Will you make sure that it is you? Or will you let it be the next door neighbor kid, or the pornographic magazine someone shows them at school, or the older adult who abuses them? As Sister Beck taught us today in a regional RS fireside, we need to be intentional about what we allow in our home and what we teach our children. We are the protectors of our homes and we need to act as such.
Definitely an idea that I have been asking myself since this last week. I'll have to get over the awkwardness. Cause really my children are worth dealing with a little of uncomfortable discussions.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And Then There Were Three...

      Children... Children add a whole new dimension to life, don't they? To everyone's lives. But especially adding your child to your family and making that whole new life changing situation your reality... thats definitely a new dimension.
      The discussion this week was about how children change your marriage relationship. It was quite the discussion. There obviously is such a difference when you bring a child in to be a part of the family that you and your spouse created. Especially with the first child. In talking about it in class, it was just so crazy to think about. I mean, I think that I have thought a lot about marriage and being prepared for that and making sure you are working on your marriage relationship and all of those things. I think I've thought a lot about what raising kids will be like. I watch my sister and sisters-in-law and I think... wow, okay, I am quite grateful to be single and childless right now! :) I mean, I know how kids are. Obviously I don't know how it is to be the mother of the children and I don't yet know how my children will be, but I'm just saying, it's something that I have considered a lot. But what I haven't considered is making the actual transition between the two of you being married to the three of you trying to figure out a new family life.
      I think it's kind of like dance. If you've ever been in a dance class before you know that often when you are being taught the dance, you will be taught one sequence, with 2 or 3 moves in it, and then another sequence that follows right after with another 2 or 3 moves in it.  And often when you are getting taught, you think, okay, yeah this isn't that hard. I can do this, no problem. But it's when you try putting those two different sequences together that you start to get problems. You have to not only know the sequences, but you have to know the transitions. You have to know how the weight changes are and where you put your feet as you move from one sequence to another. But once you get that transition down, the whole step fits together pretty well. Well, I think that is how adding a child to a marriage is. You know how your marriage works, you feel comfortable with each other and how the relationship is progressing and where you need to work on things or communicate more and where you get along really well. You know all these things. And while you may not know much about having children, you know that it's what you need to be doing and you know that things will work out. And you might have a small idea at least of how your spouse interacts with children. But it is that transition from one stage of life to the next that might slow you down. You have to figure out where the time changes are (like no sleep!) and where you have to give a little here and take a little more there. You may have to find a whole new way of communicating with your spouse because you have a whole new thing to be communicating about. Your lives change drastically and everything you thought you knew about the relationship you had, has suddenly turned upside down.
       Now all of that probably sounds pretty bleak... it did to me when my teacher was discussing this all in class. I was thinking, geeze, there's no way to not be totally freaking out and miserable when you first have a child. But of course, that wasn't the purpose of the class and we started talking about things you can do to help keep your marriage going well during this transition so that you two can still be happy and so that you can be good parents. So I'm just going to include the list here:

--Start from the beginning to involve the father in the process of raising this child. Often husbands complain that they feel left out and ignored by their wives when this new little baby comes. A lot of that comes from the way in which the pregnancy and baby is handled. Obviously some of that is just part of life, but some can be controlled.The mother has an automatic opportunity to bond with the child, seeing as she is actually carrying the child for nine months. Also, if she breastfeeds after the baby is born, she has hormones releasing in her body that continue to help her connect with this baby. By the forces of nature, men obviously don't have these experiences. They don't just happen for men. So be conscious about having the father involved; make sure he attends doctor appointments, have him feel the baby when it's kicking, even having him talk to the baby. And when the baby is born, allow the father to do all that he can. We talked about girls who simply think 'well I can do it better then you, you just don't even know enough to raise this child.' If he doesn't know as much, teach him. Let him try and sometimes fail. After all, don't we all make mistakes? Invite him into this process of raising this child. Don't just let him be/ make him be on the outskirts of this experience.
-- Set aside time that you will talk with each other, decide to make that a priority. Talk with each other about the child and their needs so that you can both be equally involved.
--Realize that there are going to be huge life changes coming your way once the little one enters your lives. Talk about what those changes may be and how you want to handle them. Determine have open communication with each other as you go through this life change.
--Spend time both with the baby and some one-on-one time. It is good to bond with the baby, obviously, and to spend some quality family time together. But don't put your relationship off. Remember that if you put yourselves on the back burner, that is only going to inhibit you from being a good parent in the future, and will therefore hurt the child. So make sure your time together is still important.
--Be considerate of the extra strain that will be placed on both of you. Realize that most likely neither of you know how to do this, and you're both going to be feeling a lot of pressure and stress as you consider being the one responsible for this little one for the rest of forever. Thats a big deal and can really affect people.
--And finally, work on communication and building your relationship before you consider having children. Those couples who had good relationships with healthy communication and interaction before the baby was born had higher levels of marital satisfaction after the baby came. (That one sort of makes sense you know...)
Anyway, this post ended up being super long. But I just really appreciated the things I learned in class this week. I'm grateful to know these things before I'm even headed in to marriage... not saying that I'll be really good at doing all these things, but at least I have a chance of doing a few of them that might help, as opposed to not knowing any at all like I did only about a week ago!
As always, thanks for listening!