Friday, November 27, 2015

Faith, Community and the Family

Have you heard of the African adage, "It takes a village to raise  a child?"

It takes a village is a proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child. A child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child.

To me, the "community" part means our religious community.  Being involved in this
type of community gives me and my family support.  It can also be strengthening to our marriages. In a study done on fidelity involving 3,000 couples, found that religious involvement appears to protect against infidelity, but only among those who were reportedly satisfied in their marital relationship.  

Another recent study that was done addressing Internet pornography and it's effects on the marital relationship and family ties, found that greater church attendance was related to lower rates of pornography use. Similarly, it was found that regular attendance at religious services was related to lower rates of domestic violence for men and women.  

Just imagine what our world would be like if everyone would have a religious belief and would attend church.  I believe that this world would be a better place and people would be more honest, caring, loving, etc.  

As families nurture and strengthen individuals, so also communities nurture families, providing a setting within which they can become and stay strong. Families are both protected and assisted by strong communities. Strong community organizations, including schools, churches, councils, service clubs, and so on, supplement and complement the efforts of parents, not only making their work easier but often making the difference between success and failure. Without denying in any way the paramount importance of the family, the old African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child has much truth in it. 

Women are much more likely to have children if they are involved in a faith community.  When religion is important in a woman's life, this appears to shape childbearing attitudes and behaviors, and that family situation (such as the presence of children) also seems to influence religiousity.  This holds for some men as well.

I have found in my marriage, that having the same beliefs and attending the same church helps us to be "equally yoked."  by this I mean, we work as a team.  We have the same goals, desires for our children, and we attend church together.  Same faith marriage are much more stable than interfaith marriages (Bahr, 1981).
All marriage will have their share of challenges and problems, including some related or made worse by their faith involvement.  Overall, marriage-based families in which the parents share religious involvement seems to fair comparatively well.  Shared faith is a principle that "successful marriages and families are established and maintained," even during the storm. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Families Can Be Together Forever

Temples can Save Families

Sometimes as parents, we raise our children the best that we can and they still have the choice to lose their way.  This can be devastating to us as parents who are teaching are children the gospel of Jesus Christ and none of us want our children to fall away from correct principles and commit serious transgressions.  But it does happen.

When I was 16, I strayed away from what I was taught.  My parents are wonderful people and they loved the gospel and taught us the best that they could.  They were wonderful examples.  We were sealed in the temple as a family and always went to church.  I chose a different path for about three years.  Without going into too much detail, I strayed way off the path, but thankfully during this time, I had a wonderful adviser in Young Women's who never gave up on me.  She loved me no matter what.  My parents never gave up on me either.  During my senior year, I finally opened my eyes and realized I did not want to live that kind of life anymore.  It wasn't easy, but I repented and feel like because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, was forgiven.  

During this period, I know my parents were heartbroken and had no idea what to do.  They knew, however that the Atonement and sealing ordinances are sufficiently powerful to eventually bring salvation to the children of parents who diligently seek to keep their temple covenants. Our Heavenly Father knows, far better than any mortal, the pain and sorrow associated with having children who exercise their moral agency to their condemnation rather than exaltation.  

My parents were very forgiving of what I had done.  They never judged me or gave up on me.  The had unconditional love for me.  In the proclamation, love is tied to moral commitment and obligation, even toward family members who seem committed to break God's commandments.  "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children" and "parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, teach them to love and serve one another" (paragraph 6).  It is important for mothers and fathers to forgive, love and have compassion.  

Elder James E. Faust said, The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.’6  

In this life as followers of Christ, we must rely on faith.  To know where the true path is, we must listen to the Holy Ghost and his promptings.  They are quiet.  Stepping off the path, even if it is not very far, diminishes the most powerful force: the Holy Spirit.  Satan will try to entice us off the path, but we have a choice to choose the right.  If we follow Jesus Christ and his plan, then we can progress in this life and eventually have eternal happiness.  In Moses 1:39, it says, "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  

Friday, November 6, 2015

What is the Father's role in the family?

 When my children were little, they loved watching a show on T.V. about a girl who was sort of like a super hero.  It was a satirical yet educational animated series about a young girl who is secretly the superhero Word girl, armed with superhuman strength, abilities, and a skilled vocabulary.  It was annoying, but my kids liked it and they would learn a little from it.  But then I began to notice, that the parents in the show, especially the father was always portrayed as a complete idiot. This really bothered me and we stopped watching that show. 

Some also think and write about fathers from a perspective of skepticism, wondering if fathers are essential to children's development or for productive family life.  From my own experience in my family of origin and also my own family, I KNOW that father's are very important.  John Snary, who investigated the contributions of fathers to children across generations in a multi-decade research project, summarized his research in saying, 

"Good fathering, it seems, really does matter.  It matters over a lifetime, and even over generations" (1993, p. 356).

So, fathers matter, their choices matter, the work they do in raising the next generation matters tremendously.

Five principles of fathering:
1.  Preside
2.  Partner
3.  Be present
4.  Provide
5.  Protect

From "The Family:  A Proclamation to the World" fathers are directed to take upon themselves the responsibility  of spiritual leadership in family life as part of a loving Eternal Father's plan for family functioning.  President Ezra Taft Benson reinforced this key principle of fathering in a conference address, "God established that fathers are to preside in the home.  Fathers are to provide, love, teach and direct" (1984, p. 6).

Parenthood is a partnership. When an individual becomes a parent, he or she enters into a community of relationships.  The proclamation to the family also explains that, "In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners" (paragraph 7).  To partner in fathering is to accept the responsibility of rearing a child in cooperation with others, particularly the child's mother, and assist and give support in doing the work of nurturance, love, and guidance in a child's upbringing.

President Howard W. Hunter encouraged fathers in his November 1994  talk, "Being a righteous husband and father:
 "You share, as a loving partner, the care of the children. Help her to manage and keep up your home. Help teach, train, and discipline your children."

Fathers need to be present for their children.  This means to be there (physically), be aware (psychological), and to give care (practical).  To be there physically means to be present, or otherwise available to a child (for example via cell phone) and be responsive to their needs and concerns.  

This is one of the many ways I felt my father was there for me.  He has always been available to talk or council me if I need it.  As a father, he is always concerned about my well being and wants me to succeed in life.  Whenever I have a problem or question, he has always been there for me.  

The latter-day prophets emphasize in the proclamation that in rearing children, "parents are to provide for their physical and spiritual needs" (paragraph 6) and fathers in particular are "responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families" (paragraph 7).

 Fathers should participate in instilling a child with needed skills and knowledge.  This sets up yet another fundamental principle of fathering, to protect a child from harm and also equip him or her to both avoid and manage life challenges.

There may be some who are reading this that don't have a father in the home, or their fathers have chosen not to be involved in their lives.  Perhaps there is a father in your life who is a good example to you and is there for you.  These principles of fatherhood are the ideal and are what fathers should be striving for.  We all have our free agency and can choose whether or not to be the kind of father that God wants them to be.  

I am grateful for the fathers in my life and the examples they are to me, especially my Heavenly Father.  He is the ultimate example and loves each one of us unconditionally.  

Here are some good resources for fathers:

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