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From frustration to Hope: Shift your parenting paradigm”

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on June 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

parenting difficultNathalie Bowman

Let’s face it: Parenthood can be stinky at times. It doesn’t always look like we think it should. I remember the day my first child was born, 20 years ago. A daughter. She was the most darling thing on the planet. (If you have children, you’ve felt the same, right?) I looked into my baby’s sweet newborn face with feelings of love and admiration washing over me. I could see her future laid out in front of me, perfect and happy, full of love and laughter, conversation and connection. But that wasn’t exactly how things turned out. My daughter is a beautiful young woman now, strong, determined, married, and wanting the best of life, but raising her was not the perfect path I had envisioned. When she was born, I had it all together. I was going to be the perfect parent. I’ve discovered, through the years, that I’m not, and parenting is a challenge. Can you relate? How do we take those difficult, stinky parenting moments, weeks, or even years, and turn them around for good and raise our children well?

 Three key points, when understood and applied, will release much of the stress on the shoulders of parenthood:

First, forgive yourself. Understand that you will, make parenting mistakes, and that’s ok. Let your children’s choices be their choices and forgive yourself for not showing up perfectly every day. I look at the many mistakes I’ve made over the years and shake my head in wonder that I didn’t get it right. Looking back, I can see what I SHOULD have done. But there is always a fresh new day tomorrow. We get to begin anew every day. Take a deep breath, forgive yourself, and start again.

Second,understand that every success or mistake you made in your parenting journey created an experience for your child(ren) to learn, grow, and overcome. Overcoming challenges strengthens the soul and character of a person. It’s okay if your children have experienced challenges in your home. We’re all in this together, and the home creates the perfect dynamic for learning and growth for the family.

Third, have hope for your family’s future! The world is vast; beautiful experiences are plentiful, and there is hope. When we hold on to regrets, those ropes hold us back and we can’t see the better future ahead. We begin to blame and get frustrated. We even shed a few tears.  It’s okay. We shed the tears and let go, cleansing our eyes and heart. It’s never too late to have a fresh start.

Parenting is a beautiful charge. What an amazing opportunity to shape, mold, and inspire the youth of the world! This world needs youth who understand challenges and how to overcome them. Allowing these three parenting ideas to change your personal parenting paradigm from frustration to hope will breathe new life into your family! There is always a beautiful new day and a fresh new start.

 

School’s Out For Summer!

In Child Development, Courts, Democracy, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Government, Grandparents, Parental Rights, Schools, Values on May 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm

school kids HAPPYRebecca Mallory

Do you think Alice Cooper was forewarning us about Common Core with that annoying song, incessantly repeated every May by school kids across the fruited plain? I wonder how our parents would have reacted when they yelled at us to, “Turn that horrid music down! You shouldn’t be listening to that trash anyway!” if we would have come back with, “Oh yea? Well Alice Cooper is a psychic! And the trash he’s screaming about will become standard curriculum in every public school in America one day!” (Then mom sticks a bar of soap in your mouth and grounds you, after which she is arrested for “child endangerment” then shipped to a re-education camp. But that’s another blog post…) Touching lyrics that I’m sure were the topic of many a parent and teacher’s worry.

Well we got no choice

All the girls and boys

Makin’ all that noise

‘Cause they found new toys

Well we can’t salute ya, can’t find a flag

If that don’t suit ya that’s a drag

 

School’s out for summer!

School’s out forever

School’s been blown to pieces.

Brings a tear, eh?  One of my first blog posts was about Common Core. I had no idea then just how ominous and pervasive it actually was. Thank heaven for the Internet and other sources that allow us to do our own homework and use our own brains to come to our own conclusion. I highly urge you to do the same. You should never take my or anyone else’s word on any controversial subject. Check it out for yourself. Though there are myriad reasons to be concerned about Common Core this post will focus on the big one: money.

The money: Where does it come from? Who’s cashing in? Who’s benefitting? Who are the losers?

Thousands of parents, teachers, administrators and politicians have finally begun to peel back the onion discovering why Common Core stinks and is making our eyes water. Proponents tout the “rigorous standards” that would theoretically bring all students up to a super smart level resulting from standardized testing and curriculum. But is that true?

Did you catch the recent news about a concerned New Hampshire father of a ninth grade girl? He attended the school board meeting to exercise his freedom of speech and express his concerns over the content of a book her class was assigned to read. “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult, graphically paints the picture of two teenagers engaging in rough sex. Explicit images. William Baer merely read the passage to the school board. He was arrested. For what you ask? Violating the two minute time limit. Not kidding. Handcuffed and hauled out. School board officials had asked him to stop and be “respectful to other people present.” Really?? Like you were to my 14 year old daughter? Yup. Arrested. The school’s lame explanation was that they “forgot” to send out notices to the parents of the explicit content. Why would explicit content even be an issue at ANY age and in ANY public school? But even this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Teachers are “getting it.”

Kathleen Jaspar, was a Florida high school teacher who recently got fed up with the Common Core nonsense in her state and quit her job. Like William Baer, she dared to voice her concerns and was basically told by school administrators to “sit down, shut up and just do your job.” Morally, she knew she couldn’t just sit by and watch her students fall victim to this evil takeover of public education.

Jaspar recently appeared on the Glenn Beck TV show (The Blaze) and followed the money, at least in her state. Former governor, Jeb Bush, is a robust proponent of Common Core. Jaspar explained why. “Mr. Bush has a foundation called ‘Excellence in Education’ that is tied heavily to Pearson Publishing company. Pearson writes the tests, builds the curriculum, scores the tests, and stores the data. One stop shopping!

Elementary through middle school, each student is given the test once a year to determine if the student advances to the next grade. Teachers do not see or use any of these skills acquired during the school year. Teachers are not even given any of the information from the data.

There is a 30-50% failure rate built in to those tests. Pearson is paid $15-30 per test per student. Jaspar says that some students literally have to take the test over and over as many as five times before they pass! The school district aka, YOU, pays for that. Ok…. back up a sec…. let’s do the simple math here. So one test at $15-30 per test, X a gazillion students, X 3-5 retakes = a boatload of money… that goes to hard-working teachers and copy machines? Nope! Right to Pearson Publishing, or the Gates Foundation, etc. Think of that!!  It gets worse folks.

“One state just like the other?”

High school students in Florida are required to take the FCAT which is a standardized test now commandeered by Common Core, but field tested in Utah. What?? Why? Demographics are a whole lot different from Florida to Utah. How does that make sense? Are kids in your state exactly like kids in Florida or Utah? Or are they all individuals? Florida high school students are required to take five tests: geometry, algebra, biology, American history, and FCAT writing. So each of these tests X $15-30, X  3-5 retakes = an even bigger boatload of money. Do you think Pearson is in business to help little Johnny pass those tests? With a 30-50% failure rate built in? Think of the money they lose if all students pass those tests the first time. Nope. They’re in the business of failure. They’re setting your child up to hopefully fail. They win big time.

Also – where’s the autonomy of the teacher? Remember those special teachers that inspired you in school? No time for that silly stuff anymore. My sophomore high school English teacher was also the assistant football coach. Coach Myers. Dreamy as well as a fabulous teacher. I’ll never forget the day he taught us how to write a descriptive essay. He brought in the smelliest and grossest garbage can complete with flies and ooey gooey slop dripping down the sides. We each gingerly took a 15 second turn, sticking our nose in and taking a big whiff. (Can you imagine the lawsuits if a teacher did that now? Hazmat alerted, attorneys screeching up in their black BMW’s etc. Shudder….) Then we scurried back to our seat and wrote a description of what we smelled, saw, tasted, heard and felt. Impact? I immediately knew I would be an English teacher some day. (Coach Myers was drop dead gorgeous which may or may not have influenced that decision.) Alice Cooper, the psychic, would surely have warned me that future Common Core standards would never allow such a germ-infested health hazard during the current politically correct ‘wussification’ of public school children.

Common Core teachers are mere proctors for the tests they administer. Who has time for imagination and creativity when there are so many mandated tests to pass and pigeonhole students into a future that the state deems worthy? Teachers want their students to be successful, and must focus on teaching to the state tests. That’s all they have time for. Students are labeled and herded before they can even succeed and/or fail enough to dream about what they may want to be when they grow up.

The man behind the curtain knows what is best for each child.

Eerily sound like the Communistic Chinese or Russian system where children are compartmentalized and steered by potential for gymnastics, hockey, science, downhill skiing, etc? It’s for the good of the collective, you know. Who cares if the kid really wants to be a mechanic, rock star or baseball player? He’s not as smart as the man behind the curtain who has already determined what’s best for him. Common Core allows all kinds of data to be gathered on your kid. Religious affiliation, family life, what they ate for breakfast, what mom and dad do for a living, what time they leave the house in the morning, how they sweat and develop heart palpitations just before testing, etc.

I have a granddaughter who just turned six who is in the top 95% of her height and is playing volleyball. She’s pretty good. Grandma loves watching volleyball and is salivating at her potential. But what if she suddenly has no interest? She may just get burned out and want to play the trombone. But collected data mining over the years shows that she should be playing volleyball not the trombone. Hmmmm…. re-education camp for her? (See archive blog, “Why capitalism is crucial to your child’s future”).

Our country is on life support, America. We all need to pull our head out of the TV coma and get involved. If only to save your own kids and grand kids.  How do you do that? Do your own research. Listen to both sides of the issues from people you trust and make up your own mind. Teach your kids truth… about all things. Let the chips fall where they may. Pay attention to what they’re learning in school. If you have a bad feeling, say something.

By the way, did you know that the 15th annual “White Privilege Conference” was just held in Madison, WI in March? Yup. Teaching 1,500 educators about the evils of white people. Want your kids indoctrinated with that stuff? Insane education material called Common Core coming to your town soon. Look it up, America. I beg you to prove me wrong. Now THAT…. Would be good for the collective.

 

 

 

Not about Adult Needs – It’s about Children!

In father, motherhood, Parenting, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexual Orientation on May 26, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Family photoCaitlin Woolbert & Alera Saul

The legalization of same sex marriages has become one of the most polarizing political debates in American history, perhaps more so even then that of abortion rights. No one thinks women’s reproductive rights are unimportant regardless of the side you’re on; it’s time we recognize Gay Rights are not simply between normal people and right wing zealots. With the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 it’s important to know what the changing laws are and its effect on society. The purpose of this article is not to debate whether or not two people love each other, or whether the government should recognize that love; however, we are concerned with the implications such marriages may have on children and society.

Marriage was the means by which children were brought into the world, and that children can only be born when both male and female is involved. In the pamphlet What is Marriage put out by the Heritage Foundation they state the importance of marriage is far more than what goes on in a house between two people. “Marriage is the building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public, not just private, purposes. Marriage is a unique relationship; it brings together sexually complementary spouses, in a monogamous relationship, where they pledge to each other to be faithful by vows of permanence and exclusivity.” This claim backs up the pages and pages of research that shows us that children of divorce often have more behavioral problems growing up and can have many of those same problems as well as emotional ones lasting well into adulthood. We also know that children of single parent homes usually do not have the same opportunities as those raised in intact dual parent households. Namely that children raised by both their biological parents is the best setting for a child to grow up.

There has been research on children raised by gay and lesbian parents; a brief written by the American Psychological Association was used in the Supreme Court cases above. However, when we look closer at the 59 studies cited in the brief we can see that there may be some problems with the research. Loren Marks, a professor at Louisiana State University wrote a peer reviewed paper wherein he pointed out many of the flaws in those studies. Often they were small studies and included only white upper middle class and high educated lesbian parents, often completely excluding gay fathers. Because of the sample those findings cannot be generalized to the American public at large and certainly not to the world’s population. In fact they cannot even be generalized to all same sex couples as gay fathers were left out. Mr. Marks was quoted in an article by the Washington Times as saying “the jury is still out…. The lack of high quality data leaves the most significant questions unaddressed and unanswered.” He also pointed out that the research showed only how children feel about and fulfill their gender roles, not how they are doing in life whether they graduate high school at the same rate, go to college or are as likely to live above the poverty line as children in traditional families.

Recent research continues to show that men and women are complementary and that previously held beliefs that any difference in male and female behavior and psychology exist primarily because of environment are wrong. For example, a day-old female infant will look longer at faces then a day old male infant; there is no time for environmental intervention to have taken place, yet that difference exists. There is even cause to doubt that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls because of society. Several years ago researchers Melissa Hines and Gerianne Alexander gave toys to monkeys wherein male monkeys played more with truck and females with dolls.

Is there a difference?

As previously stated, more research is needed to concretely determine differences between parenting styles between hetro and homosexual couples; there are multiple studies that show children raised by same sex parents may fare worse than their traditional family counterparts. A recent study in Canada, where same sex couples have had all the same taxation and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples since 1997 and have been able to legally marry since 2005, showed that there may be dramatic differences between children raised in traditional homes then those raised by same sex parents. Children with same sex parents were only 65 percent as likely to graduate from high school, with girls being slightly less likely than boys. An important difference to this study is that same sex couples are shown in the Canadian census; children were asked to which type of household they belong: intact, common law, single parent, gay or lesbian, which is not the case in the U.S. Also the sample size was representative being 20 percent of the population. More importantly it excluded single parents that identify as homosexual, only couples currently in same-sex relationships were included.

A particularly interesting and unique aspect of this study was its ability to isolate gender differences, meaning isolating boys raised by gay parents from boys raised by lesbian parents and the same for female children. For instances boys raised in homes with two fathers fare better then with two mothers, while the opposite is true for girls. In the sample it showed that girls raised in gay households were only 15 percent as likely to graduate high school as their traditional counterparts.

Every family is different. Some children in single parent households may thrive better than intact families. However, on average we can say that children raised in traditional families thrive better than children in any other family setting. Until there is more solid evidence on homosexual couples and families they cannot make the same claim. We believe that children in traditional families thrive better because of the differences between males and females. The different roles a mother and a father play in a child’s life are necessary for a child’s growth and development.

As more studies come forth we encourage you to read them. Know the facts so you can make your own informed decision on this controversial topic. This issue is bigger than simply “love” and right or wrong. This is not about the “rights” or needs of adults, but should be about what is best for children. We are looking at giving our children the best chance at a happy and successful life, something every parent should want for their child.

References:

Girgis, S., Anderson, R., & George, R. (2012). What is marriage. Encounter Books.

Lesbian and gay parenting: Theoritical and conceptual examinations related to lesbian and gay parenting. American Psychological Association, Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting.aspx

Regnerus, M. (2013, October 8). A married mom and dad really do matter: New evidence from canada. Witherspoon institute, Retrieved from http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/10/10996/

Science and Technology: The mismeasure of woman; Differences between the sexes  The Economist 380.8489 (Aug 5, 2006): 71.

Wetzstien, C. (2012, June 10). Study: Children fare better in traditional mom-dad families. Washington times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/10/study-children-fare-better-traditional-mom-dad-fam/

 

Mending the Unraveled Family: Forgiveness and Its Restorative Power

In Child Development, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, Single Mothers, The Family, Values, working mothers on May 16, 2014 at 7:55 am

family forgivenessElise Ellsworth

Years ago in a class on family relationships someone asked the students what they liked about their childhood family.  There were many varied responses but we all paused for a moment when one respondent offered a unique response – “forgiveness.”  Most families have their share of fights, mistakes, grievances and yes, even those big mistakes we term “sin.”  Some of these mistakes are costly and have led to years of grief for some of the people involved.  But as I have participated in and watched successful families over the years it seems that happy families have a way of seeing mistakes as bumps in the road rather than the end of the road.  Tempers may rage.  Mistakes may cause irreparable damage.  Tears may be shed.  But successful families and individuals do not rehash old problems for years to come.  They link arms, regroup forces, and move on.

The Power of Forgiveness in Families

In today’s world, more than ever, families need the power of forgiveness.  With so many forces arrayed against our families, if we are to keep our families together we need to develop the capacity to forgive.  Like a healing balm a forgiving heart repairs, soothes and heals the wounds that are inflicted, often by too much contact with a rough, unfeeling, and tempting world.

Studies show that forgiving families are happier.  Forgiveness in families has been correlated with a more positive experience in the family environment, with improved relationship healing, with greater marital satisfaction and even with more romance in marriage .  Of course, on a personal level forgiveness has also been correlated with better mental health, physical health, and healing from trauma.  Bitterness and blame on the other hand have been correlated with higher levels of illness, decreased ability to adjust to external events in one’s life, and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Even in instances of severe trauma like divorce, forgiveness can be a healing balm.  Scholar M.F. Trainer studied divorced persons and concluded that those who were able to truly forgive their spouses experienced greater adjustment and personal power.  Self-forgiveness has also been considered a crucial component in healing from divorce.

What it Means to Forgive

“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive” said Mother Theresa.  Learning to forgive is a process that may take time.  There are two elements of forgiveness that might be helpful to consider as we seek to become more forgiving.

1. If You Want to Forgive Move Forward: Search for Solutions Instead of Blame

First, take action toward reconciliation.  If you have had any part in the problem, be the first to acknowledge it and to ask for forgiveness.  Even if you feel blameless, you may still take an active part in seeking reconciliation for the health of the relationship.  As scholars Harper and Butler noted, “[d]on’t withdraw your love or interaction and hold out hoping the other family member will seek you out to apologize and admit his or her mistake.  Be the first to confess and say you are sorry, and make it a personal priority.”

Sometimes the other party does not desire reconciliation.  A relative of mine was abandoned early in her marriage.  Left with three little children to raise she probably had moments of self-pity and even self-doubt.  However, a wise boss told her that she needed to “pull herself up by her bootstraps” and move forward.  She did this.  Although the next years were difficult she left bitterness behind her.  Never once did she complain or engage in unkind conversation about her ex-husband or the woman to whom he was now married.  She lived a peaceful life and worked hard to give her children the very best life and opportunities that she could.  She eventually married again and built a solid and good marriage with a man who was always true to her.  Now in the twilight years of her life she is lovingly cared for by her three children and her peaceful ways and kind personality are an anchor to them and to her many grandchildren.  If reconciliation is not possible, then move forward in your own life in a positive direction.

2. Learn to View the Offending Person with Empathy and to Treat them With Compassion

It was Jesus himself who counseled: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  (St. Matthew 5:44, KJV).  Ivan Boszormeny-Nagy was an early pioneer in family therapy.  He noticed that often destructive patterns in families were passed on from generation to generation.  He suggested that to remedy this cycle adult children must “develop empathy for their parents through trying to understand their parents’ upbringing and circumstances in their families of origin.” (As cited in James M. Harper and Mark H. Butler, “Repentance, Forgiveness, and Progression in Marriages and Families”).  This empathy would allow them the freedom to break family cycles of bitterness and revenge.

One part of this empathy is learning to block from our minds unkind or vengeful thoughts or feelings about the person who has harmed us.  Mindful focus on positive thoughts – even on a favorite song or poem – can divert us from the negative and harmful thoughts about a loved one that sap us of energy and strength to restore relationships or to move on.  Not focusing on “evening out the score” or on a list of debits and credits allows us to begin the process of feeling empathy, understanding and even love for someone who has harmed us.

Virginia Pearce in her book Extending Forgiveness postulates that “if we let things build up and are unforgiving in our families and homes, our families will petrify and harden.”  Forgiveness mends the damage that will come as part of living in a troubled world.  It breathes new life into families – allowing them to flourish and to grow.  Indeed, the student whose answer gave us pause for consideration had the answer – forgiveness is crucial to the continuation and regeneration of our families today.

Parenting: A Couple Effort

In Birth Rate, Child Development, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting on April 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

mom:dad:babyDiane Robertson

As a stay at home mom of 9 children, I get many people asking me the question, “How do you do it?” My answer is simple. I do not do it alone. I am a stay at home mom of many children only because I am married and my husband and I have chosen to bear our children together and to make the financial sacrifices necessary to keep me at home.

While staying home to raise my children, I have the time to keep a clean and organized home, make healthy meals, help with homework, and be there for the little struggles and triumphs of my children. I could not be the same mother if I had to leave the house every day to work a full time job. I have the option of staying at home because I am married to a man who is willing to work hard to provide for a family. Being a mother is not hard when it is coupled with a supportive and loving marriage. In fact, motherhood under these circumstances is beautiful and rewarding.

However, our society is teaching the opposite– marriage is difficult–being parents is too hard–staying home to raise your children is a waste of your education and talents. These teachings and ideas about family life are simply not true. Sure, a happy marriage requires time and sacrifice, but the benefits always outweigh the costs. Yes, parenthood is tiring and messy. It is also wonderful and amazing, and completely worth the time and mess.  Of course, when a mother stays home she is not using her education and talents to earn money, but she is using her education and talents to teach and train the next generation—nothing is wasted.

Unfortunately, the negative voice about marriage and parenting is the louder voice and it is taking a toll on the family. With 41% of children being born to single mothers and 40% to 50% of first marriages ending in divorce, many, many mothers do not even have the option to be stay at home moms.  Not only do these mothers have to work, they are much more likely to live in poverty and their children are disadvantaged educationally, socially, and economically. These statistics are sad and sobering.

Yet, the answer to fix these problems is simple. As a society, we need to stop listening to the negative voices about marriage and family and make the choice to get married, stay married, and make child rearing a couple effort. Family life is a happy, fulfilling life, and marriage is the best place to raise a child.

Helping our children to become the best version of themselves through work

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on April 21, 2014 at 7:47 am

children cleaningKristi Kane

Recently I was reviewing my year’s posts on Facebook. One of the things I’d written was during Christmastime, and it said, “I never want to ask my children to do another chore again. I can’t handle the whining and complaining, so I think I’ll sell all of their Christmas gifts and hire a maid.”

That post got me thinking. How many times have I thought it would be easier to just “hire a maid,” than to take the time and teach my children how to work, and how to do a job the right way so that it didn’t have to be done over again and again? When my children were young, I gave them chores according to their age. When my girls were three, I’d ask them to empty the dishwasher of all the plates and cups and bowls and I  would put  them away. I’d also ask them to make their beds and showed them how to do it. I’d ask them to set the table, or pour drinks in the glasses for our meal times.

As they got older, the chores got a bit more difficult. I’d ask them to mop the floor or clean a bathroom. By the time they were nine, they were doing their own laundry. It took me standing by them a few times and teaching them how to sort clothing by color and how much laundry detergent to put in, but they learned. They had a better attitude about doing their laundry when they were doing it. They learned if they didn’t do their laundry, they would have no clean clothing to wear, and if they didn’t dry their clothes and fold them right after and put them away, their clothing would look wrinkled and unkempt.

Were there ever times when my children would complain? Yes. But most of the time they took pride in the fact that they were being involved in family activities. Work in and around the home is a family activity. It was something expected of me when I was a girl, and something I expected of my own children when they became old enough. Do I think it’s inhumane to expect children to do chores in their own home? I do not.

To emphasize this point, I will give an example. My second daughter was one of the biggest complainers when it came to doing chores. We would find ourselves laughing at the excuses she would use to get out of doing the simplest of chores. However, today, she is one of the hardest workers in our home. She started a job last February steaming and ironing clothing in a high priced dress shop. Because she worked so hard, had a good attitude, and did such a good job, she was promoted within one month to be a sales associate. She became so popular, that customers asked for her when they were making dress appointments. I believe all of her success at work stems from the fact that she learned to work and help around the house at a young age.

Helping our children to stay on task can sometimes be draining. There have been times when my husband and I have thought, “Oh, it’s just easier if I do this myself and let them off the hook for doing their chores today.” We have not been impressed with the outcome of this attitude. Our younger son in particular starts to get a very entitled attitude and starts expecting that everything should be done for him. On Saturday, a major chore day here in our home, I had asked him to do three very specific chores, one of which was to clean up a disastrous looking bathroom that he shares with his brother. Instead of doing that, he went to play with a friend, and as he left, told my husband that his chores were finished. I found my husband weeding in the yard and told him that our son had not finished his chores. Even though my husband was tired, he drove over and picked up our son, and brought him back home so that he could finish the chores he was expected to do. We’ve had to do that a few times with him, actually with all of our children, but it sets a precedent: if I don’t do my chores, Mom and Dad will not let me play with friends until I’ve done them, so I’d better do them.

Set a precedent with your children. Ask them to help you around the home. Expect it. If they are not aware of the work and responsibility it takes to run a home, how will they know how to do it when they are no longer living at home with you?

 

Marriage: A Reflection After Fifteen Years

In Birth Rate, Child Development, Cohabitation, Families, father, Gender, Health Care, Homosexuality, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Same-Sex Marriage, Sanctity of Life, The Family, Values on April 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Ellsworth Family LDSElise Ellsworth

Next week my husband and I will celebrate fifteen years of marriage together.  Our marriage has weathered the births of seven children, four college degrees, eleven moves (four of them cross-country), job losses, being hit by a tornado, too many emergency room trips to count (we have six boys) and a host of other day-to-day stresses.

Frankly, I hope that the next fifteen years offer more smooth sailing than the last.  But despite having crossed some stormy seas I remain more committed than ever to the institution of marriage and more convinced than ever of the benefits of marriage between a man and a woman.  I am amazed at how many seemingly intelligent persons are being deceived by the popular argument that the best way to go through life is alone, cohabiting, or in a relationship with someone of the same gender.  I love being married to my husband!

There are so many well-documented benefits to man-woman marriage.  Married couples are healthier.  Married couples are wealthier.  Married couples are happier.  Married couples have better sex lives.  Married couples raise happier and more successful children.  These are all proven facts. So, I’d like to digress a bit and share fifteen little things I have loved about being married and being committed to my husband for the past fifteen years:

©     Our weekly dates – snowshoeing, hikes, learning a language, trips to the thrift store – the only date that hasn’t gone over well is tennis – I am a sore loser

©     Early morning runs – and after two near fires we have made the rule for the kids of “no attempts at cooking” while we are gone

©     Middle of the day telephone calls from someone who loves me

©     Making plans together – it drives my “let’s get going” husband crazy but I love to get his ideas

©     The little jokes my husband cracks right when I am in the middle of my serious tirades

©     Shared eye rolls when the kids are going out of control

©     When he “winks” his tail light at me when I’m following him in my car

©     Having an excuse to get dressed up

©     Entertaining together and watching my husband agonize as he tries to set “the perfect table”

©     Our nightly ritual of sharing one thing we love about each other – sometimes it’s “I like your nose hairs” (if we’re really mad), but it’s always something

©     The births of each of our children – touching heaven for just an instant

©     Swinging children between us on hikes

©     Trying to keep each other awake when we are driving on long road trips

©     The seemingly hundreds of soccer games we’ve attended over the years – sometimes I try to pretend I am not married to him when he loses it with the referee but I still love being there

©     Waking up next to my best friend (this is my husband’s addition J)

The cool thing about marriage is that this list is different for everyone but it’s still there.

Yes, today more than ever it is difficult to get married.  And it’s difficult to stay married.  But if you get the chance, if you fall really, truly in love – don’t settle for less.  Commit to lifelong marriage.  It’s been a fun ride.  I’m looking forward to the next fifteen years.

Considering the standards by which we measure our parenting

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, The Family, Values on April 15, 2014 at 7:02 pm

UFI_Image_2014_04_15_MorningDewLast weekend I found myself sleeping on a grass field under the stars. Living in west Los Angeles, it’s a rare opportunity to see the stars between nights blanketed in ocean fog or the dimming effect of the city lights. But on this night, flanked by sleeping Boy Scouts scattered across a grassy field, clusters of the brightest stars shone down on us as we settled into our sleeping bags. As I drifted to sleep, I stared into the heavens letting my mind wander. Thoughts of my growing two-year-old entered my consciousness and of his younger brother expected to enter our family in a few months. In a self-examining moment I imagine many young parents experience, I began to ask myself probing questions such as, “How am I doing as a young father?” “What does my son need from me that I’m not presently giving?” “What kind of example am I to this precious little one?” As a first-time parent, such internal inquiry comes to me frequently as I travel the journey of perpetual “firsts.” Before I had a chance to answer the many questions that entered my mind, I drifted asleep. The following morning I awoke with those questions still on my mind. As I sat up to survey my surroundings, I noticed a moist sensation that completely enveloped me. I quickly realized that the nightly dew had visited us, coating our sleeping bags in a light blanket of moisture.

Dew plays an interesting part in the southern California ecosystem. I’ve always been amazed at the vast array of disparate plants that can grow in this naturally dry landscape. In the same garden you can find everything from desert cacti to blooming perennials to colorful tropical varieties. What I find remarkable is that Los Angeles ranks as one of the driest major cities in the country averaging a mere 14 inches per year. How can such an array of plants grow in such an environment? I’ve never claimed to be a botanist, but I believe this can be attributed in part to the continuous, nourishing, and nearly imperceptible dew that descends each evening. Dew may be quiet and unnoticed, but its steady influence empowers a variety of plants to grow and develop.

Oftentimes as a parent I hold myself to the wrong standards. While my inclination may be to measure myself by the sheer inches of rain I provide to my growing boy, perhaps what he really needs is consistent, mindful acts of love like the nightly dew. What fatherhood requires of me isn’t a periodic downpour, but a daily, nourishing effort to help a child grow. Mother Theresa, a woman of immeasurable influence in the lives of countless individuals was attributed to have taught, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” As I continue to grow alongside my toddler, my only hope is to echo this sentence-long sermon by offering my child a quiet daily dew of love, trust, and mindful example. I can’t wait to see how he blooms.

Written by Josh Ostler, contributor, Seeing the Everyday. Learn more at seeingtheeveryday.com

The War We Must Win

In Child Development, Domestic Violence, Education, Families, father, Government, Parental Rights, Parenting, Pornography, The Family, Values, Violence on March 20, 2014 at 8:41 am

porn-fight itRachel Allison

Four sons, one son-in-law, and five grandsons are reason enough to be concerned about the plague of pornography that is so available on our computers, “smart” phones, tablets, and every other devise that can access the internet. Because of the availability, addictions can be developed and fed almost any time and anywhere.

Several years ago my husband worked as a public defender.  Many of his clients had committed heinous sexual crimes, and of these clients, many admitted that their addiction to pornography played a major role in advancing their actions. My husband repeatedly warned our sons to avoid pornography at all costs. “Crash the computer if you must.” “Immediately flip the channel, or turn off the television.” “When you see it, you will know it.”  “Avoid it like the sickness and disease that it is.”

Fast forward ten years, and my oldest son is in medical school.  It soon became obvious that his roommates’ fathers didn’t have the same conversation with their sons.  Our son would often enter his apartment to find not only his male roommates, but also several of their female friends watching graphic pornographic videos.  Playboy magazines were always lying around the apartment.  We could only hope and pray that our warnings and counsel helped hold our son strong in each situation he encountered.

I often wondered what kind of doctors these young men would become.  When their “entertainment” focused on something so degrading to women, how could their education and their lives develop unimpeded in an upward and positive direction? I’m sure they would have argued that it was simply an entertaining past-time pursuit and that there would be no negative consequence.  But statistics, studies, and observing the destroyed lives and relationships of those who are caught in the web of pornographic addiction are all proof that they would be naïve and sadly mistaken to make such an argument.

Jo Fidgen‘s article, “Do we know whether pornography harms people?” states

“Pornography has been linked to unrealistic attitudes about sex, beliefs that women are sex objects, more frequent thoughts about sex, and children and young people who view pornography tend to hold less progressive gender role attitudes.”

Years ago I read the book, “A War We Must Win” by John Harmer.  The war he references is the war against pornography.  If there are naysayers to the harmful effects of pornography this book with all its references would be a must read.  I recently read a comment by “Jefe,” a reader of Harmer’s book whose evaluation is verbalized well.

Jefe, writes:

…Mr Harmer is…very well acquainted with numberless persons with shattered lives because of this insidious addiction…. The book itself explains how something that has always been considered abhorent, repugnant, or in any other way offensive to what should be “common decency” has been able to survive and thrive under constitutional protection and other legal tricks. It leaves no doubt that this form of “entertainment” is no less destructive than addictive drugs, but is in reality more destructive because it is dealt in subtlety and craftiness, disguised and packaged as entertainment. Mr. Harmer makes a point to demonstrate that porn is promoted through a gradual desensitization of society through currently acceptable forms of entertainment,…

According to Rabbi Shmuley, pornography is incredibly harmful and destructive to marriages. Pornography subtlety undermines male respect for women by detaching a woman’s personality from her body, reducing her to a mere sexual commodity, he says. This in turn bores men and leads to dissatisfaction with their own wives and an inability to create a fulfilling, authentic sex life based on mutual respect for their female counterparts…. “The principle sin of porn is not one of commission but omission. All the erotic energy that should be focused on the woman in your life is being wasted. Your eroticism is being punctured, leaving your relationship boring and predictable.”

All these years I have been concerned about pornography ruining the lives of my sons and grandsons.  The more I educate myself to its tentacles of destruction, the more I worry for my daughter, daughters-in-law and granddaughters. Their lives are just as precious, and they would be the innocent victims if the men in their lives succumb to this evil.  This is a war worthy of our every effort…it is the war we must win.

How can we take a stand?

1.  When you see it, you will know it.  Walk into stores that display it.  Calmly talk to the manager.  He will most likely tell you that his hands are tied.  So write to the corporate offices. Encourage like-minded men and women to also write.

2.  Talk to your children.  Warn them.  I have read and heard several times that we should start warning our children as young as 7 and 8 about this issue.  How sad is that?

3.  Get filters on all computers, and make sure these computers are always placed in rooms with lots of traffic flow.

4.  Collect all smart phones and tablets at night.  Your children won’t need them after everyone has retired to their rooms…right?

These are just four suggestions.  Again, when you see pornography, you will know it.  Don’t ignore it. Take a stand!  And know that I, for one, will be fighting along side of you.

 

 

 

Discovering self-worth in a visual-centered world

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Parenting, The Family, Values on March 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

seeing_24_W_4.1FNr.inddIn a media age that bombards youth with images of what they should look like and gives false importance to outer beauty, it can be challenging to instill in young minds a true sense of inner strength and beauty. How can fathers and mothers compete with the seemingly endless flow of lies that lead to unwarranted self-doubt and anxiety in young people? Though there are many suggested solutions in parenting books, the most influential approach is one that any father and mother can provide without training. We learn from Jenet Erickson’s own reflections the lasting, positive effects of a father whose consistent, deliberate presence formed the necessary attachments that kept his daughters from relying on the media for answers. Instead, they found character and confidence through his constant care. In Jenet’s own words:

In the hours before he went to work and in the hours after he returned, Dad spent his time teaching us and showing us how to do difficult things and better ourselves in the process. From doing math and chemistry problems to hoeing rows of tomatoes and milking cows, from learning to swim to kneading and baking bread, he instilled in his children confidence and capacity. In a way that only he could manage, he challenged us to do more while strengthening us through his knowledge we could do it. Most important, he was seemingly always beside us, willing to reach in and lift the load when it got too heavy, always encouraging us with his confidence. In his closeness and care, we felt strength. In his teaching and challenging, we developed confidence that we could do whatever was put before us.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized Dad had never talked much about our appearance. I very rarely heard him comment on anyone’s appearance—especially women’s. In his quiet teaching, I knew that what Dad cared about most was that our bodies were healthy and well cared for so they could help us fulfill our dreams and do good for others. In a world that objectifies the body for sexual pleasure and financial gain, Dad seemed to intuitively fill us with confidence that our bodies were about our minds, hearts, and capacities. In Dad’s world, there was simply not time or energy to worry about making our bodies fit a worldly model of beauty. We had too much to do and too much to give. Our deep attachments to him and Mother, as well as understanding ourselves and our self-worth, provided footing to focus on what we could give and do to bless others.

As I look back, I marvel at his wisdom…

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Read more about Jenet Erickson’s experience in her article, “Kneading Confidence,” in Seeing the Everyday no. 24. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.

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