Thursday, October 29, 2015

Are You My Mother?

When my children were little, they used to love the book, "Are You My Mother?"  They used to ask me to read it to them over and over again.  It was so much fun for them to read about the baby birds quest as he asks everyone and everything, "Are You My Mother?"

I love being a mother.  I have always wanted to be a mother ever since I can remember.  I was taught from the time I was little that when I grow up, I can be a mother.  Now I have three children of my own and it has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life.  

Mothers have always had an important role in this world and they are needed even more today.  I have noticed today that the importance of motherhood has been questioned and devalued.  A survey  of mothers in the United States in 2005 found that fewer than half of mothers (48 percent) felt appreciated most of the time, and almost 20 percent said they feel less valued by society when they became a mother (M.F. Erickson & Aird, 2005).  Many mothers (and myself included) feel that society does not value the kind of self-sacrificing work motherhood requires.  Some feel pressured to invest their talents and energies in work that they perceive to be more valued by the larger culture.  

Bruce C. Hafen said, "For most of our history, the word motherhood meant honor, endearment, and sacrifice....Yet this spirit of self-sacrifice has become a contentious issue in recent years, making contentious the very idea of motherhood" (2005, p. 181).

If you look back in history, there has been many changes and questions about the importance of motherhood.  Before industrialization, mothers and fathers worked side by side to build their household economy, represented in the family farm or small artisan shop.  With industrialization, the work of production moved outside the home, creating a split between work and home.  Now mothers became the primary caregivers of their children.  Fathers went out into the world to establish themselves as earners.  There became a division between men and women.  Women were to "live" for others" by giving up all self-interest and in that way save the home.  

When my husband and I began having children, I have to admit, sometimes I thought that I was giving up just about everything I wanted to do and felt like there was no time for anything else, except, caring for my children.  Then I began to think of it differently.  I chose to be a mother.  I wanted children.  So why am I so concerned with what "I" want and why don't I focus on my children and just enjoying them?  I like how Elder Robert D. Hales said it,

 "Motherhood is the ideal opportunity for lifelong learning.  A mother's learning grows as she nurtures the child in his or  her development years.  They are both learning and maturing together at a remarkable pace.  It's exponential, not linear....In the process of rearing her children, a mother studies such topics as child development; nutrition; healthcare; physiology; psychology; nursing with medical research and care; and foreign languages.  She develops gifts such as music, athletics, dance, and public speaking.  The learning examples could continue endlessly" (Hales, 2008, n.p.).

This is what I have discovered as my children were born and began growing up.  I started learning so much about children, how to raise them, what to do when they are sick, how to parent them, and teach them.  If I didn't know what to do, I would go check out a book in the library, or look on the internet.  When my son was struggling in public school and we pulled him out, I began homeschooling him.  I had to do a lot of studying and preparing for lessons.  I learned so much during that time.  

Some ways that mothers can nurture growth and development:
-create an environment of safety, peace and learning
-work to perform, maintain and strengthen individual well-being and family relations
-teach your children

All women have been called to partner with God in doing all that they can to help guide their children home to him.  As women engage in the work of motherhood, whatever their circumstances, they will find that their greatest source of strength will come from knowing Christ and his doctrines and relying on Him for help.  Heavenly Father will strengthen us in this holy calling.  I have felt this strength throughout my calling of a mother, and I am so grateful for this sacred calling. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Parenting with Love, Limits, and Latitude

Parenting has been one of the most fulfilling responsibilities I have ever experienced.  It has also been a source of sadness and frustration.  I love my three children and would do anything for them, but sometimes it's hard to know when I am doing enough or too much.

Joseph Smith said, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves."  We as parents have the challenge and opportunity to apply general principles from inspired sources and adapt them to our individual family circumstances as we diligently strive to meet our children's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  

We all come to this earth with distinct and unique personalities and characteristics.  The First Presidency of the church said, "All people who come to this earth and are born in mortality, had a pre-existent, spiritual personality, as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father"(Statement of the First Presidency, 1912, p. 417).  

President Joseph F. Smith said, "the character of our lives in the spirit world has much to do with our disposition, desires and mentality here in mortal life (1916, p. 426).  The way individual children respond to their earthly environments is also influenced by their spiritual identity and the spiritual gifts cultivated in the pre-mortal realm.  

Should we parent each of our children differently?  President James E. Faust (1990, p. 34) observed, "Child rearing is so individualistic.  Every child is so different and unique.  What works with one may not work with with another."  As parents, we should work to adjust, relate to, and raise each child in a manner that is tailored according to the needs as parents and children learn from each other.
As much as we would like to control our children and make them do what we ask, that is not the best way to parent.  The proclamation admonishes respect for the divine and individual nature of children as parents love, teach, and guide them with an emphasis on teaching and preparing children rather than unrighteously controlling their wills.

I love this talk given by President James E. Faust called "The Greatest Challenge in the World - Good Parenting.

 Brigham Young counseled, “If you are ever called upon to chasten a person, never chasten beyond the balm you have within you to bind up.” (In Journal of Discourses, 9:124–25.) Direction and discipline are, however, certainly an indispensable part of child rearing. If parents do not discipline their children, then the public will discipline them in a way the parents do not like. Without discipline, children will not respect either the rules of the home or of society."  

Of each of the several styles of parenting identified by scholarly research, the authoritative style of parenting is most consistent with the proclamation and the words of modern prophets and scripture (Hart, Newell, & Sine, 2000;Haupt, Hart, & Newell, 2005).  You can learn more about the different styles of parenting here. 

The three characteristics of authoritative parenting is love (connection), limits (regulation) and latitude (autonomy).  My husband and I have tried to be authoritative parents with our three children. I think the hardest part of parenting this way is latitude, especially when they are teenagers.  It is hard for me to be flexible with teenagers.  I know it's important to give them more freedom and independence, but it is hard to see them fall and make mistakes.  I am still learning this as I have one more teenager at home.

Rearing children in love and righteousness, as the proclamation admonishes, requires the best efforts parents have to offer.  The rewards of such well-placed time and attention are eternal.  I have seen this in our family.  It isn't always easy, but the rewards are so worth it.  President Gordon B. Hinckley (1997b, p. 421) said,

"Of all the joys of life, non other equals that of happy parenthood.  Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, non other is so serious.  To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges.  The good result from such efforts becomes life's most satisfying compensation."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Should I keep trying?

Most people want a happy, successful marriage, but sometimes it doesn't fit the description of what we expect it should be.  This is when he or she may consider divorce.  Researchers have estimated that 40-50 percent of first marriages - and about 60 percent of remarriages- are ending in divorce in the United States.  The U.S. has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, although it is common in many other countries as well.

Marriage is ordained of God and is so important to our spiritual and temporal well-being.  Ancient and modern day prophets have provided important council on marriage and divorce.  Here is a wonderful talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on divorce.

I love how Elder Oaks speaks out of such love and concern for us.  He is not saying divorce is absolutely wrong.  We know in certain circumstances it is the right thing to do.  

When I was 20, I was married in the temple.  It lasted 18 months.  It was a volatile relationship from the beginning.  I should have known better but I was young and thought things would change.  I have to be honest, I was devastated when he told me he wanted a divorce.  I thought we would be married forever.  It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through.  Was divorce the right thing to do in this situation?  I don't know the answer to this, but I do know if it wasn't for this experience, I never would have gone on a mission and I may have never met the man I am married to now and have been married to for 22 years!

President James E. Faust gives some counsel on the decision for divorce.  He gives a three-part "test" for those seeking to determine if ending a marriage is justified.  
  • Prolonged difficulties- "Only prolonged marital difficulties should lead a couple to contemplate divorce."  President Faust sustains that a determination of just cause for divorce requires a substantial period of problems, time for potential change to occur, and an unrushed, careful decision.  
  • Apparently irredeemable relationship- This means that there appears to be little hope for repairing the marital relationship.  This determination requires that sincere and sustained efforts have been made to understand and fix the problems.  
  • Destruction of human dignity- The relationship has deteriorated to the point that it threatens to destroy the dignity of one or both spouses.  This means marital problems have become serious enough over a period of time that an individual begins to lose his or her sense of worth.  
In my situation, I had a prompting that I should not marry my first spouse, a few weeks before the wedding.  As I look back I wish I would have listened to that still small voice.  I can't change it now, but I would recommend to young people that are considering getting married to always pray about it and listen to those promptings.  You can save yourself a lot of heartache and pain if you listen.  

Just to clarify, I am not saying my marriage now has been a bed of roses.  We  have had our ups and downs.  Marriage isn't easy, and there are times when I want to throw in the towel.  We both have to constantly work at it and be patient with each other.  We are working at it every day and I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is guiding us and cheering us on.  

Here are some wonderful books that I recommend for those who may be at the crossroads of divorce to give them perspective and guidance.  

The Divorce Remedy (Davis, 2000)
 Covenant Hearts (Hafen, 2005)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Equal Partnership

When referring to marriage, what does equality mean to you?  We believe that Heavenly Father put all of us on this earth with all different types of personalities.  He didn't do this to only value those people with brown hair.  We are all precious to him and we all have something different to bring to our marriage and that is what can make it wonderful!

The Proclamation to the world teaches that gender is "an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose" (paragraph 2).  Gender is at least one way we will differ in the eternities. Without these differences there could be no divinity.  This doesn't mean that gender difference conceals some kind of ranking between men and women.  One gender does not have a greater eternal possibility than the other.

"All human beings-male and female-are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents" (Proclamation to the world, paragraph 2).  When Adam and Eve were placed on this earth, we know that Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the garden of Eden.  We call this the Fall.  We do not view this as a tragedy.  Because of the Fall, "the doorway was opened toward eternal life" (Dallin H. Oaks).  Eve had a very important role in introducing the plan of happiness.  The door to mortal life for God's children could only be open by a daughter of God.  

In the Plan of Happiness, men and women equally listen to each other and both play influential roles in that plan.  They each have to look to each other for the plan to work.  In the sight of God, they are equal and should stand beside each other.  In different cultures across the world, relationships between husbands and wives are viewed in many different ways, and some are the opposite of the true doctrine of equal partnership.  In a general conference address, Elder Richard G. Scott made this easy to understand:

"In some cultures, tradition places a man in a role to dominate, control, and regulate all family affairs.  That is not the way of the Lord.  In some places the wife is almost owned by her husband, as if she were another of his personal possessions.  That is a cruel, mistaken vision of marriage encouraged by Lucifer that every priesthood holder must reject.  It is founded on the false premise that a man is somehow superior to a woman.  Nothing could be farther from the truth."

For Latter-day Saints, equal partnership in marriage is a commandment, not an alternative lifestyle.  The reason for this is because "men are that they might have joy"(2 Nephi 2:25).

When there is an equal partnership in marriage, research has shown that the results of this are: better emotional, and physical health, better marital relationships, and better parenting and outcomes for children.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Happy Marriage: Cold, Hard Facts to Consider

In movies, the internet and television, marriage is portrayed as "sexless, boring and oppressive"(Marcotte, 2009, p. 1).  This may be true for many people in the "real" world, but research reveals that married couples, including women are far from oppressed.  There are many benefits of being married.  There are exceptions, but overall married people have:    
  • Better health
  • Are generally happier
  • A reduction in depressive symptoms
  • A higher life satisfaction
  • Better mental health

Many couples are afraid to jump right in to marriage, so they choose to "test drive" their relationships by moving in together.  Usually men and women who move into together don't understand the realities of premarital cohabitation.  There is a higher rate of divorce for couples who live together before marriage and lower marital quality.  Couples who lived together before marriage have reported lower levels of marital satisfaction than married couples who did not live together.  Infidelity is also more common among marriages where the couple had lived together before they got married as well as physical aggression.  

There is so much clear evidence that good marriages are undoubtedly worth the work, sacrifice, and commitment they require.  There are many unique benefits to marriage, and the disadvantages of alternative family forms are all too common.  Marriage benefits begin at the ceremony, and spread into the lives of husbands, wives, their children throughout time; then eventually help to reinforce neighborhoods, communities, and the world.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Honoring Marital Vows with Complete Fidelity

Keeping our marriage vows with complete fidelity forever

In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" it says, "God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.  They should honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

In the world today, there is a misconception that infidelity involves only sex outside of marriage, but being completely faithful to one's spouse, requires more than not committing adultery.  When we get married, we are completely giving ourselves to our spouse.  We love our spouse and God with "All our heart, might, mind, and strength"(D&C 4:2).  Our spouse is the only other besides God who we are commanded to love with all our heart.

Every day on the news, you hear about the indiscretions of athletes, celebrities, and politicians. Television makes infidelity seem like an everyday occurrence.  Surprisingly, according to research done by the National Marriage Project (2009), 21 percent of married men and 14 percent of married women in 2000 report ever being unfaithful to their spouse.  Yes, this sounds terrible, however this number has not increased over the past 20 years.

There are four general types of infidelity: fantasy, visual, romantic, and sexual.  Fantasy Fidelity is having an emotional affair with someone who has no knowledge about what is happening, or someone who is anonymous, (like on a social network or chat room).  Let's say John and Emily are married.  John frequently fantasizes about one of his co-workers, a woman and what it would be like to run away with her and have a life together.  Would John ever act on this fantasy?  Maybe, maybe not, but because he is imagining what life would be like with another person, he is not being faithful to his wife.  It is important to remember, "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he"(Proverbs 23:7). The line can seem blurred, but this infidelity is all about emotions.  If we find ourselves putting more effort into another relationship, then we need to stop and think about how this is affecting our marriage.  

The second infidelity is visual, and is one of the most common types in our world today.  Pornography involves the common practice of self-stimulation while viewing pornography.  In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus has warned that we should not look upon anyone lustfully.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught: "Pornography impairs one's ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex.  It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior.  As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are let to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others."

Romantic infidelity happens when an individual becomes emotionally involved with a specific person other than his or her spouse.  It can be described as a "second life" and can be a result of trying to escape the monotony of everyday life.  Satan tries to convince us that our life is boring and we need to escape our dull routines and relationships.  Those who are unfaithful, however will over time become disappointed since everyday life will catch up to us eventually.

The final type of infidelity is sexual infidelity.  This occurs when a person engages in sexual acts outside of marriage with or without emotional attachment.  It's important to understand that infidelity is very subtle and does not begin with adultery.  It begins with thoughts and attitudes.

There are many ways to avoid infidelity.  Here are just a few:

-Be loyal to your spouse
-Put your spouse first
-Control your thoughts
-Be on guard. Have boundaries and draw the line with others of the opposite sex.

When we have appropriate boundaries, are loyal, control our thoughts, and put our spouse first, our marriage will unlikely be hurt by infidelity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pathways to Eternal Marriage

The last time I posted here was in December of 2102.  I have been in school for five years!  I did not want to take too many classes at a time, so it's been slow going, but I am getting it done!  I should graduate next Spring in Marriage and Family Studies.  I am really excited!!

I am attending BYU-I online.  Most of you will be familiar with that school.  It is a religious school affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This is the church I have grown up in and know all my life.  I love it.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and he is my brother.  He loves me and you.  He loves everyone.  He wants us to be happy.  Part of that happiness will come from living his commandments.  

I am going to take a different road with this blog for a while.  At school, I am taking a class called "The Family."  It is based on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I will be sharing different aspects of the proclamation and how I feel about it.  I am doing this for a project for my class, but I am excited and happy to share some of my beliefs.  

"In 1995, leadership from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) released “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” a document outlining Mormon beliefs on families.
Its purpose is to clearly “proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” as well as define important beliefs about the family’s eternal nature, the sacredness of marriage, and parental roles and responsibilities"(

There are some of you who may not believe the principles I am going to discuss here. That's OK.  I hope that you will still read what I have to say.  We can have a difference of opinion and still be open to hearing to each other's beliefs.  I have decided to start out by leaving my comments section open.  I want to hear what you have to say, what you agree with and what you don't agree with.  But I am not going to change what I believe, so I would ask you please to keep the comments positive and respectful and I will leave them open.  If it gets too negative, I will remove them.  If you feel you need to unfollow me, that's OK.  I will get over it....Thank you so much!

Young adulthood and Pathways to Eternal Marriage
What are some milestones that are a necessary part of becoming an adult?  Accepting responsibility for oneself?  Achieving financial independence?  What about marriage?  It seems as if society is changing their attitudes about marriage and the transition to adulthood.  The trends in our current society reveal that there are many stumbling blocks in today's dating and courtship culture that require young adults to approach marriage with an even greater degree of faith and steadfastness than was required in previous generations.  So how can young adults move toward marriage with faith and confidence?

I have found it interesting in my studies of marriage that despite the growing trend to put off 
marriage, research indicates that having a successful marriage is still highly valued among emerging adults, especially for those who have never wed, marriage remains a life goal. About six-in-ten (61%) men and women who have never married say they would like to get married, according to the 2010 Pew Research survey. Only 12% say they do not want to marry and 27% are not sure  (

I know many young people are a little pessimistic about marriage, given the divorce rate today.  The divorce rate in America is between 40-50 percent, and even higher in subsequent marriages (  Because of this pessimism, many young people are putting off marriage and using their young adult years as a time to pursue their personal interests and become independent financially.  In a recent study, a considerable proportion of emerging adults reported that to be ready for marriage, they need to be financially independent, finished with their education, and settled into a long-term career.  Many are even saying they need to be able to pay for their own wedding, and have purchased a house before they get married.  Gosh, at this rate, not very many people will be married anytime soon!
Do you remember dating?  Well, these days it seems to be going away.  Only 50% of college women reported that they had been asked out on six or more date, and a third said they had been asked out on two or fewer dates (Glen & Marquardt, 2001).  More young men and young women are "hanging out," instead of dating.  Then there is "hooking up, which is basically having sex with someone without expecting anything of the relationship.  This is very widespread and accepted in today's world.  Cohabitating has become embraced as well by emerging adults.  62% of young adults reported that living together before marriage is a good way to avoid eventual divorce; more than half of all marriages today are preceded by cohabitation (Whitehead & Popenoe, 2001).

Many friends I have talked to feel that "living together" takes the risk out of marriage and reduces the odds for a divorce.  This is not the case; Studies on cohabitation and later marital success have consistently found that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who do not live together before marriage (Jose, O'Leary, & Moyer, 2010).

Becoming the right person for marriage
When it comes to dating and becoming the person you want to be for marriage, Elder David A. Bednar warns young people about a embracing a finding-focused view to dating and counsels then to practice a different approach.  He visits with young adults all over the LDS church.  Many young people will ask, "What are the characteristics I should look for in a future spouse?  As though they have some checklist.....You are not on a shopping spree looking for the greatest value with a series of characteristics.  You become what you hope your spouse will be and you'll have a greater likelihood of finding that person"(2009).

I want to share a personal experience here.  When I was twenty, I met a guy who I thought was "the one."  We dated, and got married within about 4 months.  1- 1/2 years later we were divorced.  I am not sure why it didn't work, other than I was young and had no idea what marriage was supposed to be like.  I did not understand that marriage was more than just a couple relationship.  I thought being married would bring me personal happiness, emotional gratification, physical attraction, good communication, pleasurable intimacy, and basically a wonderfully happy marriage.  Well, to some extent those views about marriage are correct, but I didn't understand that the "couple relationship" goes deeper.  There is a sacred aspect to marriage that I knew nothing about.  Marriage is a divine institution.  I was missing out on the sacred aspects of: commitment, sacrifice, selfless caring for one's spouse, and benefits of marriage for children.

As a Mormon and Christian, I am learning that there is so much more to create a loving and lasting marriage.  When marriage is looked at as a divine institution, this grounds a couple's relationship in the principles of discipleship, covenant making, cleaving, equal partnership, the sacred responsibilities of husbands and wives, and eternal purposes of marriage.  Viewing marriage in this way teaches us that one of the keys to lasting marriage is to seek not just compatibility with one's spouse, but also to seek alignment with God.

I have been married now for 22 years.  My marriage is not perfect by any means.  It is still a work in progress.  I know that Heavenly Father has given us the institution of marriage for a reason.  We need to form loving and lasting relationships.  We can do this through marriage and family.  The world is changing, along with the definition of marriage, but God doesn't change.  I am so grateful for my marriage.  It isn't easy.  There are ups and downs.  There are wonderful times and hard times.  My goal with this blog is to share some of what I have learned about marriage and families with you, and hopefully we can all learn together.

Have a great day!


*Most of the information that I have shared here is from the book Successful Marriages and Families, Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives.  Edited by Alan J. Hawkins, David C. Dollahite, and Thomas W. Draper.
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