A Welcome Message

It's a great big world we live in. And yet-it's a small world (after all). There are so many different cultures and opinions and theories and beliefs, but there is one thing that exists among them all, and that is FAMILY.

I firmly believe that "the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

On this blog, I'll share information from my classes, experiences from my own life, thoughts and feelings from my heart-all on the subject of FAMILY.

Friday, July 24, 2015

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Here is a summary of some of my favorite things from this semester. If I haven't already done a post to expound on any one of them, I hope to still. I hope even more so that you've learned something valuable with me!

Being an informed and involved parent changes lives.
I learned a lot about parenting this semester and received insights that pertained to my own children, for which I am grateful. I love the things that were brought up on teaching a good work ethic within the home. First of all, that kids naturally love to work and we need to nurture that rather than squash it like so often happens. Work is not all about money. As soon as we introduce this attitude to our children, it will stay with them. One of the most important points of this I thought, was to make each child a contributor. We all want to feel important and that we have a way to fit in. I also liked the blessings we talked of coming from Heavenly Father's allowing us (young couples) to be parents and raise His children. Just a few of them are because the Lord loves us and knows that children will shape us to be more like He is; because parenting teaches us to love in a complete, pure, God-like way that is unconditional, and because this life is a pattern for the eternities and families are central to His plan. Michael Popkin's Problem-handling Model was helpful, but I especially liked the discussion on our basic human needs. I gained great insight regarding my oldest daughter that has already helped my relationship with her, just recognizing that she needs more contact and implementing that into my interactions with her. The Lord truly loves and cares about us and our children. The more engaged we are in our parenting partnership with him, the better suited we are to see to their needs.
Heavenly Father doesn't give us trials just to test us. He leads us down the path that will most bless our lives.
I really love this thought and believe it is true. The whole reason we were sent to Earth was so that we could become like God and therefore have everlasting happiness. "Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). Joy in this life comes with family. Everything the Lord gives us in this life, including our trials is for our benefit. The Lord wants to bless us. Brother Williams mentioned Carlfred Broderick's idea of saviors on Mt. Zion and how it refers to those who suffer in this life so that those who come after them will not have to suffer. As I pondered this, I found it applies to so many whom I know.
It is not enough to simply rely on research unless we know it is true and honest research.
People in the world today rely far too much on scientists and research and not nearly enough on truth. We saw the truth of this as we analyzed the research on same-sex parenting. It is easy to fall prey to the opinions and views of others unless we create a habit of doing our own research to find the truth behind the popular posts, opinions, and views of the world. Simply taking the time to read an article all the way through and check either its sources or the opposing side gives us a greater picture of what is true and correct and where we should stand on any issue.
"You can never get enough of what you don't need, because what you don't need won't satisfy you." 
I love this quote by Elder Oaks. I found its origin in a talk called Joy and Mercy and loved his entire message as well. This quote, however, talks so bluntly and yet so beautifully of our natural man searches for happiness and how happiness and fulfillment can never be found through unrighteousness means. This applies to issues of same-sex attraction, substance abuse, pornography, laziness, pride, entitlement, and any other form of sin and selfishness. The only way to find joy and fulfillment in this life is Heavenly Father's way. That means keeping His commandments, making and keeping sacred covenants, and following His plan for families.
Borrow the best and learn from the rest.
Our families of origin have a great impact on our marital and other close relationships. We need to first understand what kind of family traits we come from, which of them are healthy ones that we should keep, which are unhealthy that we should replace, and then find good traits and traditions to replace them with to strengthen ourselves and future families. What has been tradition or habit for centuries in our family may need to change and we can make those changes if we are aware and willing to put in the effort. Going back to Broderick's saviors on Mt. Zion, sometimes we need to work harder or endure more for the sake of others. Doing so will bring us closer to the Savior of all and will bless us eternally.
We are so much more together.
I absolutely loved the discussion on how males and females complement each other so completely and especially how our separate strengths and weaknesses combine to create the absolute best atmosphere for us and our families to thrive! Women are naturally wonderful empathizers and focus on the quality of relationships. Men naturally are action focused and more aggressive, which makes them great providers and protectors. Together, a man and woman become the proper nurturers, presiders, providers, and protectors that The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches we need in order to be successful in family life.
Daryl Bem’s Exotic Becomes Erotic Theory
                I found this theory fascinating. It makes sense to me that Heavenly Father would not create us in a way that is contrary to His plan, which means there has to be another cause for same-sex attraction. This theory explains the probable cause in a way that leaves room for the Atonement to work on those with same-sex attraction as it does other human sins and weaknesses. The four steps Brother Williams taught for changing are 1) Understanding that the urges one feels are for non-romantic intimacy 2) The abuse-whether self-inflicted or not-has to stop 3) Skills for properly managing emotions need to be developed and 4) Healthy relationships need to be made. I can see how Bem’s theory and these steps can help church leaders, parents and others to know “how to treat” those with same-sex attraction as opposed to the current trend of encouraging same-sex attraction out of “love.” If our actions are performed out of real love, they will always lead to Christ and his teachings, never contrary to them.
Dating Dos and Don'ts
                I actually had the opportunity to use Brother William’s story of the trendy young man’s image survey with my young women at a mutual activity. Much like the girls he surveyed, my young women described two very different people when asked to describe the kind of man they’d like to marry and what they think of someone dressed similar to a male model. I should have gone farther to ask them what the man they described as marriage-worthy would look like to each of them, perhaps, just to go a little further with the example. I love that proper dating leads to successful marriages and sets the stage for couples to fulfill their roles as fathers and mothers. A date is planned, paid for, and paired off which is practice for presiding, providing, and protecting a family. Date activities can include practice for the woman to nurture as well! There is a difference between dating and courtship, or at least there should be. A healthy relationship develops through dating ->courtship ->engagement ->marriage. As soon as a couple is married there should be a very real boundary set that links the two as an executive, equal partnership.

                Intimacy in marriage is extremely important, not just for the purpose of bringing children into the world. Men and women are physically made to complete each other just as we are emotionally, spiritually, and behaviorally made to do so. When selfishness is abandoned, vulnerability given to one another and complete acceptance with it, sexual intimacy becomes a beautiful and even heavenly part of the marital relationship. The problems that arise in a sexual relationship between spouses can all be turned into positive benefits for the couple if they can unitedly and openly work through them. Discussion of intimacy between parents and children needs to change from traditional night-before-the-wedding “talks” to constant and age-appropriate open discussions between parent and child throughout their life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fatherhood Forever

I had to write a paper for class this week and I'd like to use it as my post. I used the article, Life Without Father by David Popenoe and I found it fascinating. It's not too long of a read, though it was adapted from his book, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society. You can get the book on Amazon for about 3 cents (like 4 or 5 bucks after shipping)!

Satan’s attack on the family has society rather confused on the subject. Everything about the traditional family is being questioned, including the importance of a father’s influence.

Lessons from Life Without Father, by David Popenoe  - A paper adapted from his book of the same title.
In his paper, Professor David Popenoe explains the absence of fathers in the home and the impact their absence has on society. The first point Popenoe discussed was the difference between the reasons for and attitudes towards fatherlessness in modern times compared to earlier years. He said, “There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was far more common than it is today, but death was to blame, not divorce and out-of-wedlock births… Almost all of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are alive, well, and perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood.” Fathers are simply choosing not to fulfill their roles, rather than being unable to do so because of death or sickness. “The children of divorce and never-married mothers are less successful in life by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers. The replacement of death by divorce as the prime cause of fatherlessness, then, is a monumental setback in the history of childhood.”
The absence of fathers in the home has powerfully negative affects on children, women, and yes-even the men themselves. In speaking of children, Popenoe said, “In my many years as a sociologist, I have found few other bodies of evidence that lean so much in one direction as this one: On the whole, two parents—a father and a mother—are better for a child than one parent.” Popenoe also explains that even though there are always exceptions, “such exceptions do not invalidate the rule any more than the fact that some three-pack-a-day smokers live to a ripe old age casts doubt on the dangers of cigarettes.” A father’s role is more than merely acting as a second adult in the home, though that is certainly one benefit. Fathers and mothers naturally have different strengths and when there is one of each in the home, they “offset each other's deficiencies and build on each other's strengths.” A father’s “unique qualities” are typically different from those of a mother, making their contributions-along with hers-vital to the success of complete family wellbeing. “What fathers do—their special parenting style—is not only highly complementary to what mothers do but is by all indications important in its own right for optimum childbearing.”
Women have endured many hardships due to the trending absence of fathers in the home. Aside from the obvious financial and emotional stresses of raising children alone, many women also face physical danger as a result of fatherlessness.
More than two-thirds of violence (assault, robbery and rape) against women is committed by unrelated acquaintances or strangers. As the number of unattached males in the population goes up, so does the incidence of violence toward women.
Or consider the fact that, of the violence toward women that is committed by intimates and other relatives, only 29 percent involves a current spouse, whereas 42 percent involves a close friend or partner and another 12 percent an ex-spouse.' As current spouses are replaced by nonspouses and exes, violence toward women increases.
In fact, marriage appears to be a strong safety factor for women. A satisfactory marriage between sexually faithful partners, especially when they are raising their own children, engenders fewer risks for violence than probably any other circumstance in which a woman could find herself. Recent surveys of violent-crime victimization have found that only 12.6 of every 1,000 married women fall victim to violence, compared with 43.9 of every 1,000 never-married women and 66.5 of every 1,000 divorced or separated women.
It may be surprising to some that it is not just women and children who suffer from fatherlessness. Popenoe says, “The world over, young and unattached young males have always been a cause for social concern. They can be a danger to themselves and to society. Young unattached men tend to be more aggressive, violent, promiscuous, and prone to substance abuse; they are also more likely to die prematurely through disease, accidents, or self-neglect. They make up the majority of deviants, delinquents, criminals, killers, drug users, vice lords, and miscreants of every kind.” He continues, “Family life--marriage and childrearing--is an extremely important civilizing force for men. It encourages them to develop those habits of character--including prudence, cooperativeness, honesty, trust and self-sacrifice--that can lead to achievement as an economic provider. Marriage also focuses male sexual energy. Having children typically impresses on men the importance of setting a good example.”
It’s no wonder then, that modern research continues to find more and more evidence that many of the social problems we face in the United States today leads back to the absence of fathers in the home. Why? “The latest and most authoritative review of the research concluded that children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle--out of school and out of work--as children who grow up with both parents.” Popenoe provides numerous examples and data in his paper to support the idea that fatherlessness is a major cause of social problems in the U.S. He says, “Having a father at home is no guarantee that a youngster won’t commit a crime, but it appears to be an excellent form of protection. Sixty percent of America’s rapists, 72 percent of its adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of its long-term prison inmates come from fatherless homes.”
So, what can be done? Popenoe gives a range of suggestions for employers, religious leaders, family scholars and educators, counselors, legislators, and entertainers. He suggests a two-tier system for divorce that separates cases without minor children and marriages with children-the latter having stricter guidelines. Lastly, he states, “If we are to make progress toward a more just and humane society, we must reverse the tide that is pulling fathers apart from their families. Nothing is more important for our children or for our future as a nation.”
My Own Experience
                  I remember times growing up where interactions with my father brought me great comfort or taught me important lessons. When I was rather young, my family had to move from the house we were renting. I was told the owner was going to tear it down to build a new house. In my young mind, I pictured a wrecking ball knocking down the walls on top of us and feared we wouldn’t be moved out in time. I remember asking my dad if they would do that to us and he stopped what he was doing, squatted down to my level and pulled me into his arms before explaining that we were safe and no such thing would happen.
It’s impressive to me that even though my father had to work a lot to support our large family, his influence on me was just as great as my mother’s, and sometimes greater, even though I spent much less time with him. Once I was late for curfew and I returned home to a note on my bed explaining his disappointment in not having me there for family prayer and not knowing I was safe at home before he had to retire for bed-he worked very early in the morning and couldn’t wait up for me. His simple concern and obvious love for me had a huge impact on me and turned my selfish teenage attitude outward to think of more than just myself.
My father’s good character always stuck out to me. He was a man I admired from a young age. My mother was a wonderful. Her influence is irreplaceable and I cherish and appreciate the things she taught me pertaining to the gospel and every day life lessons, but somehow, there was something about my dad that made his opinions, input, advice and time with me weigh so very much and I believe it’s the divine gift that fathers have to be a role model for their children. Again, when I was young, my father and I had run an errand and when we returned to the car to go home, we found that it wouldn’t start. My dad tried a few different things but nothing worked, including prayer. We walked to a nearby food place to use the phone and then walked back to the car to wait for someone to come. As we were walking back, I had the thought that we should try starting the car again. After all my dad’s efforts, I was expecting him to disregard my suggestion. I was a child, after all. But my dad didn’t even hesitate before saying, “if you feel that we should, we will.” Even though the car still did not magically start from that attempt, I learned from that small experience that my dad valued and trusted me, and I could trust him with anything.
Fatherhood in My Future
Not only was I blessed to have a wonderful father growing up, I have married an incredible man whose own father is another great example and influence. So far, my husband and I have four young children and we have witnessed the power of his influence in their lives. There have been times when he’s been home less due to work schedules and I’ve seen the void that my children feel when he’s gone. One of the first things they ask him each day is, “Do you come home dark or bright?” With his ever-changing work schedule, they have grown accustomed to him being gone either in the mornings or evenings. To them, his coming home “bright” is more desirable as it seems that they get to spend more time with him then. On the nights when he’s at work, the last thing they always ask when I tuck them into bed is, “Will you tell dad to give us a kiss when he gets home?” They know they’ll be asleep, but just the comfort of knowing he’ll check in on them is real.
We have tried to follow the examples we had growing up of having regular family home evenings, family scripture study and prayer, and lots of family time together either in the garden, running errands, camping, fishing, working, serving, and playing. There is nothing so wonderful as when I find my children wrestling their dad or playing silly games with him. President Harold B. Lee said, “The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, Chapter 14). My husband and I are not perfect parents, but we are continually learning and trying to be better, more like our Father in Heaven who is the ultimate example of perfect parenting. I know that the righteous and worthy influence of my husband is vital to the wellbeing of my children. I know that the same can be said for every father. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released… and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity” (To the Fathers in Israel, October 1987).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How NOT to Fall in Love

Once upon a time, there was a princess. One night, she went to a ball. As she descended the steps to the dance floor, the handsomest prince in all the land surged forward to greet her and take her hand for the first dance. As soon as he placed his hand on her back, she knew! He was the prince for her. They would dance tonight, marry tomorrow, and live happily ever after.... or would they?

Thanks to the movies and our girl-ish daydreams, we often approach dating with this attitude that the man of our dreams is simply going to come along some day, we'll meet, touch for the first time, and the rest will be history.

Perhaps this is why dating has become so unsuccessful in leading to successful marriages and has even become an endangered model for getting to know a prospective spouse.

Rather than the traditional dating and courtship that was once the only dating model, young people today have started to follow others, such as:
Hang out, Make out, Drop out
Date 'em til you Hate 'em

If people approach dating this way, what are their approaches and attitudes towards marriage going to be?

Did you know?
When kissing occurs, 
a chemical called Oxytocin 
(the same bonding chemical 
that forms an attachment 
between mother and baby) 
is released-especially in women, 
so that when the relationship is severed, 
there is an actual wound that takes place? 
Women who kiss around 
a lot have a harder time 
forming an attachment 
in each subsequent relationship, 
therefore making it hard 
for them to commit to a lasting 
relationship or even marriage. 

What is the purpose of dating?
Your ultimate goal is to spend eternity with Heavenly Father, and in His kingdom we will live as eternal families. So the ultimate goal of dating is to find an eternal companion you can make and keep temple covenants with. (taken from Dating FAQs).

Elder Oaks (and his granddaughter) taught the three P's of dating.
A date is:  Planned.  Paid for.  Paired off.

Can you see how this model of dating leads to better marriages than those other models and behaviors?

Look at it this way... according to The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a husband's role is to Preside, Provide, and Protect while the wife's role is to nurture. The three P's of dating prepare us for the three P's of marriage and family life!

Planned ....................... Preside
Paid for ....................... Provide
Paired off ..................... Protect

Let's not just pick on the guys, though. What about us women?
It is our divine role to nurture, so how can dating prepare us to fulfill that role?
Elder Scott said, "[Women] should be developing the sacred qualities that God has given His daughters to excel as a wife and mother: patience, kindliness, a love of children, and a desire to care for them rather than seeking professional pursuits. [They] should be acquiring a good education to prepare for the demands of motherhood."
Men should be looking for such qualities in the women they date. They should plan dates that provide opportunity for these qualities to be proven.

In reality, the sequence for getting to know and falling in love with someone has become totally skewed. Where a relationship should look like this-->

it quite often is the opposite, and that leads to problems down the road. The healthiest order of relationship development is Dating -> Courtship -> Engagement -> Marriage.

A perfect love is the love that combines all four of the greek translations of the word:
Storge - The least discriminating kind of love. The love of affection.
Philia - The kind of love that exists between friends.
Eros - Romantic love between a man and woman. It is more than a desire for sex, though it is included. It is longing to be with a particular person, thinking about them.
Agape - Christlike love. Acting for the well-being of someone else, regardless of whether you like them or not.
(Marriage & Family The Quest for Intimacy by Lauer and Lauer)

If you follow smart dating practices and find someone for whom you feel all of these kinds of love, I'd suggest sticking with that person. Chances are, you'll live a lot happier ever after than your favorite fairy tale couple.

The End.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

By Divine Design

You've heard the saying that husbands and wives compliment and complete each other, right? Well, after what I learned a few weeks ago, I am more of a mind to believe it than ever. Forgive me for my absence. I assure you it is not because I wasn't learning some amazing stuff the last few weeks-because I have learned so much and have been so blessed by what I've learned! It's exciting.

For example, the things I learned about men and women's instinctive differences and how they impact our families for the better. It's stuff we all know to some degree or another, but until I thought about it in depth the way we did in class, I didn't realize how bodaciously awesome it is. People still use the word, bodacious, right?

Let's take a minute to talk about our non-physical differences. What are the more obvious ones?

Females are relationship focused. In general, they are better able to empathize than men. They listen and respond, verbalize, and are observant of others and their emotions. The female brain has more connective tissue which is why they seem to be thinking of everything and everyone at the same time.

Males, in general, are not so naturally great at those things, but are excellent in their own strengths. They're action focused-they take on and complete tasks with less distraction. Aha! My husband's always teasing that I need horse blinders when I tell a story because one thought leads to a million others and I have a tendency to stray from the original topic. Males have spatial orientation, which is why they understand north and south easier and we girls are much more comfortable with landmark directions. My husband is able to look at a basketball or football game on TV for a matter of seconds and he knows exactly what's going on, whereas I am rather lost for a while unless I've been watching the entire game. Men are also naturally more aggressive than women.

How do these differences help the family?

"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love 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."

Let's break it up.

Mothers are to: Nurture.
Fathers are to: Preside, Provide, and Protect.

Can you see how our male and female differences aid us in fulfilling these responsibilities?

A mother's ability to recognize and respond to the individual needs of each family member allows her to nurture the entire family the way she was divinely appointed to do.

A father's ability to focus on his work and then immediately switch gears to focus on his family as soon as he gets home allows him to provide the best he can, and preside with love and righteousness. A man's natural aggression makes him the perfect protector for his family.

SO COOL!!! Heavenly Father knew exactly what He was doing when He created us male and female and sent us to Earth in families. Not that we ever doubted that.

A classmate made the observation that if we (husbands and wives) were the same, we'd only be able to achieve mediocre. But together, with our differences, we can excel.

We are so much more together!

Often times we nag and pick on the opposite sex because they are different from us and frankly, we don't understand them sometimes. But those differences are exactly what make us the most powerful of partners when it comes to raising a family! So cherish and celebrate those differences!

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Family System

Remember how one of the main points of the Family Systems Theory is that the whole is larger than the sum of its parts? Well we were given an assignment to come up with a metaphor to represent our family. I came up with an orchestra for my family.

My dad is the stage. He's in the background, but provides for his children just as a stage provides a place for an orchestra to perform. He's made of a strong, sturdy foundation of good character, integrity, and testimony.

My mom is the composer. She works behind the scenes to make life the best it can be for us children. She's not always pleased with the way we interpret some things in life, but she's always there to show her love and support of our efforts anyway.

Rebekah is the 1st violin section. She is talented, intelligent, has strong opinions and preferences, and is always working to be her best.

Ammon is the bass section. He's the protective big brother and a strong steady support in the family. He's always willing to host or help others and gives good, logical advise.

Elann is the conductor. I know everyone would expect this to be one of the parents' roles, but Elann is always managing multiple projects, callings, and her nine busy children. She's also the one that many of us look to for an objective point of view when we're lost in our frustrations. She encourages peace and harmony among all the family members.

Steven is the cello section. He's mellow and soft spoken but daring and adventurous like a cello solo. He's always looking on the bright side and is everything good and wholesome.

Lora is the viola section. She's the bridge between the big kids and the little kids. She takes pride in being her own person with very specific ways of doing things, but she is constant and successful as a wife, mother, teacher and musician.

Seth is the percussion section. He makes things fancy with a matter of fact attitude. His emotions ring out loud and clear. He's creative and confident and a hard worker.

I am the woodwind section. I love and live a simple life just like the simple, clear tones of the oboe. But just like the woodwinds have a wide range from high to low notes and instruments, I am able to get along with all of my siblings because of the time I've spent with their families.

Samuel is the brass section. He demands a lot of attention just like the sharp notes of the brass instruments, and yet he's enjoyable to be around. He's intelligent, considers all variations, and tries lots of new things.

Anna is the harp. Not only does she play the harp beautifully in real life, but she is soft and kind. She is a true introvert, but surprises us with striking insights and glissandos of humor.

Andrew is the 2nd violin section. Last but not least, he's an important member of the family. He looks up to the rest of us but has his own unique harmony to contribute. He has an enthusiasm and love for life and family that makes him valuable.

Each of us can play alone, but when you put us all together working cohesively, we perform wonderful music, memories, and good deeds.

Now, that's my family. What about yours? What can your family be likened to? What role do you play in your family? Are there any important members missing and if so, who has filled their role?
How are the relationships between the individuals or between the different sub-systems of your family? How do these relationships contribute to patterns in the family? What will you do to change the worst patterns and keep the best?

Brother Williams kept saying something in class this week in regards to family patterns and cultures that I totally love:

Borrow the Best and Learn from the Rest

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First Things First

Last week we learned about theories. Specifically, family theories. 

For example, here are some concepts from two of my favorite family theories:

Family Systems Theory
 - the whole is larger than the sum of its parts
 - everyone has a role to play
 - families are driven by rules
 - circular causality

Symbolic Interactions Theory
 - perception of individuals
 - we're always communicating, though sometimes not what we mean to
 - we form meaning based on our perception of interactions

How can theories help families?
Consider the following scenario. Overall, Dean and Janet are happily married. However, Janet has been so upset with Dean lately. It seems as though he's been deliberately doing or neglecting simple things just to frustrate her. For instance, Janet is always the one who has to replace the empty toilet paper roll, so the last time she noticed it empty, she decided to leave it and make him take care of it. The next day, it was still empty, but Janet refused to change it. She noticed she had a hard time being more than civil with Dean that day. The next day, it was still empty! And Janet finally snapped. She tore into Dean about how lazy and inconsiderate he was. Dean sat stunned, and when he asked Janet where this was all coming from, she took it as an unwillingness to take responsibility for his neglect and stormed off fuming. Feeling confused, guilty, and a little defensive, Dean kept his distance the rest of the night and the rest of the week because he didn't want to be accused of anything else he wasn't aware of. Janet noticed Dean's distance, considered it an action of his guilt, and became more and more infuriated with him as the days went on.....

Sometimes, more than one theory can come into play for one situation. This one, I believe, uses both Family Systems and Symbolic Interactions Theory to understand what's happening. Do you see the circular causality that's happening? Janet feels Dean has been neglectful, so she accuses him of being lazy -> Dean feels attacked for doing nothing wrong, so he distances himself -> Janet notices his distance and feels even more neglected. Each of their perceptions affects their actions and feelings toward the other person. Janet perceives an empty toilet paper roll that Dean refuses to replace. Dean perceives Janet attacking him for no reason. But what can the couple do to understand their situation?

Our teacher, Brother Williams, quoted something that he first heard from Elder Harold B. Lee - "We need to communicate so we cannot be misunderstood."

Now let's rewind a little and change the initial interaction between Janet and Dean. Janet approaches Dean and says, "Dean, why don't you replace the toilet paper roll in the bathroom? I feel like I'm always the one doing it." Dean looks at her a little stunned at first, then with a look of realization. "Oh," he says, "I didn't know it was empty. I haven't used that bathroom in a little while. I usually use the hall bathroom just because it's closer."

Do you see the difference? Understanding that Dean's neglectfulness and Janet's accusations were not what was actually hurting the relationship, or at least not the core of the problem, helps family therapists (or anyone who's trying to help) get to the root of what is actually the problem. In this case, Janet and Dean were not clearly communicating with each other. They were communicating-it's impossible not to-but they were not communicating what they actually felt or perceived and therefore perplexed the situation more.

What kinds of misunderstandings have you been in that have caused a strain on that relationship for even a short period of time? Looking back now, what could you have done differently to avoid or remedy the misunderstanding?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What's the Matter with Guys These Days?

NOTE: This is not my regular weekly post-it's rather an observation and my strong opinion on the subject. This week's post on what I learned from class this week is coming.

I often hear people of all ages complain about the dilapidated state of dating nowadays. More often than not, I hear that it's the guy's fault for this decline in the dating trend. "Guys just don't ask girls on dates anymore." "Guys just want to hang out." "Guys don't like commitment." Admittedly, I've been guilty of some of these, and I still don't think they are wholly wrong. Talks and addresses given by latter-day prophets and apostles even confirm some of them. But I had an opportunity in class today that never should have been mine, and it made me think of another reason for this dating decrease, and it's NOT the guy who's at fault this time.

The class is Family Relations. So naturally, we talk about families A LOT. Today our professor decided to have us act out a family therapy session to demonstrate how a certain successful family therapist (please forgive me for not remembering his name) used his interviews to help families. My teacher asked for 3 volunteers-someone to play a 9 year old boy, a mother, and a father. The first to volunteer said he'd be the boy. Then another guy volunteered to be the dad. There was a long awkward pause. The teacher asked again for someone to volunteer to be the mom. Another very long, awkward pause. I sat and watched, waiting for one of the single ladies to jump up. No one did. So I volunteered-I am almost always willing to volunteer, but I really wanted someone else to seize this opportunity and I'll tell you why in a minute.

When I was young and single-ha! I sound like that old person... don't worry, I do realize I'm not that old-dating was a thing. Boys and girls talked and flirted. Girls found excuses to be near or talk to the boys they liked. Boys asked girls out on dates, girls said yes. Boys and girls went on all kinds of dates; single dates, group dates, first dates, blind dates, second dates, exclusive-we're-a-couple dates, getting-to-know-you one-time dates. What changed between then and now? Are guys really just not interested in dating like they used to be? Are girls less interesting now? Are young people honestly not wanting to get married? I doubt it. Young people I know wish they could find the person who is best for them. They seem to long for marriage. Things that I see popping up on Pinterest hint at the idea that girls nowadays spend just as much time thinking and dreaming up their future wedding as they ever did "back in my day" with a game of M.A.S.H.. But here's where I get frustrated... many of those (not all) who are wishing and longing and dreaming don't do anything beyond the wishing and longing and dreaming in order to achieve dating and marriage.

Now let's go back to my example of the class enactment that I was part of. It was a great activity, by the way. It totally helped the class see the impact that healthy family bonds and boundaries can have and it was fun to participate. But here's why I was disappointed that it was me................. I'm married.  HUH?? Why does that matter? Well, as far as the educational aspect of the demonstration, it didn't. So for that I was glad to do it. But there was a whole other opportunity missed!

Here you have a good-looking, seemingly awesome young man (who very well could read this post and if so, sorry for putting you on the spot) in a class with more than a dozen eligible single ladies. Let's assume that some of them are already in a relationship, either married, engaged, or dating. Let's also assume that another portion of them are just not interested in dating right now, or in this particular guy. But some of them, even if only a couple, had to be interested in getting to know this guy better. Why should one of them have been where I was? 

Three reasons:
1) It's a chance to be NOTICED - In a room full of other single ladies on a campus where there appear to be fewer eligible men than women, a girl needs any chance she can get.
2) It's a chance to BREAK THE ICE - Sure, play acting in front of the entire class is a little awkward, potentially embarrassing. But that very thing might prove to be the perfect ice-breaker and could spark future, not-so-awkward conversations.
3) It's a chance to SHOW INTEREST - Let's face it. Guys need encouragement and who can blame them? No one likes rejection, so why would a guy willingly ask a girl out if he didn't have some sort of clue that she would probably say yes?

I can't tell you the number of girls that I've talked to who tell me all about some cute boy that they just wish would ask them out on a date. I get all excited for them and ask about the last time they talked to the guy. Imagine my surprise when they say that they haven't! What?! Why not? "Well, he never talked to me." Or, "what am I supposed to talk to him about? Nothing came up." Honey, I don't care what you talk to him about. Ask him about the color of his shirt, for crying out loud. One time, a girl had been telling me about this guy she worked with for a couple weeks. He was super cute, and he talked to her every now and then, but their jobs kept them in separate parts of the building for the most part. One day though, she told me about how that particular day, the guy had actually come up  to her and said something funny. She had laughed at his joke and then gone back to her work. That was it. I was floored. "You went back to work?!" I squawked said. She looked at me like I was dumb. What else should she have done? Again, my answer-ASK HIM ABOUT THE COLOR OF HIS SHIRT. Is that a magic question that leads to endless dates? No. In fact, it's a really weird, random question. But it's better than doing nothing at all. If nothing else, it shows him you're interested in keeping the conversation going. Hopefully he can figure out the next step on his own. Now, let me not be confusing here. First of all, I am NOT encouraging you to skip class or give half an effort to your job for the sake of flirting. Secondly, I am a firm believer of those old traditions where the guy is the one to ask the girl out and the one to initiate the first hand hold or the first kiss. But the idea that Mr. Right is simply going to see you across the room and then search the whole earth just to find you and ask you out with absolutely no effort on your part is bologna. Some people's love stories come close, but not most. Most of us have to give a little encouragement (some a lot) before any sort of relationship can develop. 

So if you're an eligible single lady reading this, check yourself. Are you a wishing, longing, dreamer only? Do you come off as unapproachable or uninterested? Don't be afraid to put yourself out there a little bit. The guy has to do it a whole lot more than you in the beginning. Don't lose hope if you try once (or nine times) and it doesn't pan out the way you wanted. The right guy is out there. But you have to be searching just as much as he is.

And to all those eligible guys, don't give up on dating! Give it as many chances as it takes. Don't let the art of dating completely die out. I know far too many amazing, beautiful, intelligent and talented single ladies who are worth every effort to get to know them. (A couple of them are here in town-I could set you up.)

I know that there can be drama and heartache and awkwardness (lots of awkwardness) throughout the dating scene that make some wonder, "what's the point??" But the point is that one very major purpose in this life is to have a family. The point is that you will experience no greater growth, joy, or measure of fulfillment than that which you experience as a spouse and parent. So even if it takes you a whole lifetime of pursuit, it's worth it. Your Heavenly Father wants that for you, and so do I.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Zero Population - NOT the answer, my friends!

There's an old song from Saturday's Warrior that argues the world is getting smaller and zero population is the answer to saving the world's resources. Many of the trends that we see in families today suggest that society at large agrees-even though there is good research that proves otherwise. Even if not for the same reasons as those listed in the song, values and patterns pertaining to the family are not what they used to be.

In the last 40-50 years:
premarital sex       has gone UP
unwed pregnancy  has gone UP
cohabitation          has gone UP
delayed marriage  has gone UP
delayed parenting  has gone UP
people living alone has gone UP
divorce rates        have gone UP
number of employed mothers (with children 6 and under) has gone DOWN
household size has gone DOWN

See any correlations between any of these?

What do these trends say to you?
In my opinion, they all stem from a characteristic that has (again-in my opinion) become all too common among people today. It's a characteristic that we're not proud to own up to, which is perhaps why so many people don't own up to it or take the responsibility of changing it in themselves.
And justification for our selfishness.
Do you disagree? If so, that's okay. We can agree to disagree. But I have President Spencer W. Kimball backing me up. "It all comes back to one word, doesn't it: Selfishness" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 313). :)  I can think of an example for every one of the above trends and how it stems from selfishness on the part of one or both persons involved in the relationship and I'll bet you can too if you think about it.

Here's one example: Premarital sex and Cohabitation. I'm going to lump these two together for a moment. I remember someone asking my brother and his then-fiancé when she found out they weren't living together and they were waiting until after they were married to have sex, "but how do you know it's going to work?" She had a point. I mean, what if my brother was one to leave the shower curtain open, or his soon-to-be-wife hogged all the blankets? And what about the sex?? Everyone knows that's a very important part of the marriage relationship, what if two people have different likes and dislikes? See where the justification sneaks in? It almost seems irresponsible and illogical to NOT live and sleep together first. But here's something to think about... which of these things can't be remedied with a little communication and selflessness? How hard is it to say, "Sweetie, if it doesn't matter to you, could you try to remember to close the shower curtain when you're done? It looks nicer and it won't get so mildewy." It's not so hard to say and shouldn't be too hard to forgive when he forgets. Better yet, it only takes a second to pull it closed yourself the next time you're in the bathroom. Now, you might say, "yeah, but the intimacy thing is pretty important." And you're absolutely right. There are issues that are important. Many of them should even be addressed before marriage, such as attitudes towards finances and religions and expectations of how the couple will work together as equal partners while fulfilling their individual roles. A good foundation for all of those issues can be worked out before marriage with good communication, except the intimacy one. To address this issue, I will turn to my friends Lamb and Brinley, whom I don't actually know at all-but I've read their book. It's called Between Husband & Wife and it's a great resource on the subject of marital intimacy. (Anyone else always look at the word 'marital' and initially think of 'martial' as in 'martial arts,' or is that just me? Anyway.) It says, "One of the great challenges surrounding the sexual experience relates to the fact that husbands and wives often have very different perspectives about sex... but [these problems] can be overcome as the husband and wife work together to find the ways to provide a positive and fulfilling experience for one another." They give more advise and wisdom on the subject later in their book, but I'll let you read it.

I would like to point out, too, that love and "making it work" comes down to our choices. We choose to love someone. We choose to marry them. We choose to stay with them. We choose to make their happiness our priority. All choices have consequences. The consequence of putting our spouse and family first is a happy family life. I choose that because my family is the only thing that will bring me eternal joy and happiness.
{Side note: I really like Sara Bareilles' song, 'I Choose You'. Have you heard it?}

Amazing things happen when you prayerfully go and do. You know? There I was, "anxiously engaged," looking for something worthwhile to share with you, and I hit the jackpot. So here it is. President Spencer W. Kimball gave an address called Oneness in Marriage. He shares the "never-failing formula which will guarantee to every couple a happy and eternal marriage."

"The formula is simple.
First there must be the proper approach toward marriage...
Second, there must be a great unselfishness... [See! I was right. I told you!]
Third, there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.
Fourth, the commandments of the Lord... must be lived completely.
With these ingredients properly mixed and continually kept functioning, it is quite impossible for unhappiness to come, misunderstandings to continue, or breaks to occur."

Read the full address. It can be applied to all areas of family life. President Kimball's words make sense not only to my head (logically) but to my heart and soul as well. This post has not at all been about what I initially planned on writing, but I hope it has become what the Lord wanted me to write and what He wanted me to gain from this week's class. I know that Satan is trying his darndest to thwart the unity and happiness of the family. He's had some victories, but I also know that he won't win in the end. "Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). I will quote that phrase a lot because I believe it with every ounce of myself. Heavenly Father cares about our relationships, especially our families. He will not allow Satan to win in the end. So will you and your family be on the winning side? I hope so.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Relying on Research: Do you know what you're relying on?

Here's what I learned in class this week: Just because something says it is backed by research doesn't mean it is true or correct!

This week we analyzed Loren Marks' article, Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting. 

It was FASCINATING as well as TERRIFYING. It was fascinating to analyze the material and find out the truth behind what was being compared and sampled in the 59 research accounts that supposedly proved children of same-sex parents are at no disadvantage from those raised by a married mother and father. It was terrifying to think that we allowed something so blatantly false to manipulate and influence so many of us, including members of the US Supreme Court. I won't give you all the details of what I learned was wrong with the APA's brief. We talked about it for an hour and a half in my class and probably could have analyzed and talked about it even longer. 

If you're up for it, I highly encourage you to do your own research on the subject. Read the article. Compare the APA's research findings to those of Dr. Regnerus' New Family Structure Study. Make your opinions after you make yourself informed with correct information. Don't just take my word for it. 

Here's an article that explains what I learned about the APA brief today from analyzing Marks' article. It's helpful since reading formal publications can be kind of tricky. 

Here's another one that discusses both the work of Loren Marks and Dr. Regnerus.

How often do we let wrong information 
become the basis for our opinions and beliefs? 
I can think of other subjects where we've done the same thing, can you?
When you read articles or claims on Facebook, the internet, the newspaper, etc, do you automatically accept everything that is said without a knowledge that it's correct? I know I've been guilty of that in the past and that's what my eyes have been opened to this week. I hope yours will be too so that together, we can start making better decisions, forming better opinions, sharing better ideas-ones that are informed, on purpose, and good.

I have a favorite quote from Elder Ballard that has brought me comfort and confidence many times. We often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ As we observe television shows that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the world in some way and isolate our families from it all. … Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. … [We] need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 100–101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80).