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What’s My Role? – The Grandparent Dilemma… or Opportunity?

In Child Development, Divorce, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Media, Parental Rights, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, Technology, The Family, Values on April 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

Grandpa and grandsonby Chuck Malone

Indeed one of the most fascinating, albeit frustrating, challenges facing any family unit is trying to understand and adjust to changing roles. The constant challenge to the definition of family in today’s changing environment makes that challenge even more difficult.

In a nutshell, let me set the stage for the object of this blog – “the grandparent.” What do we do with them? What does it mean to be without them? Who loses if they are not in our children’s lives?

My children had grandparents during their childhood years, but my parents struggled with that role. They were so careful not to interfere, that they became almost ghost-like; appearing and then almost as fast… disappearing, leaving evidence of their visit in the form of gifts, food, and/or a little chat about “what’s new with the kids?” Or “you are pregnant… again?”

My wife’s mother on the other hand was made to be a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren as much, or more, than her own children… and treated them as such.

So now my wife and I are “the grandparents.” Interesting, isn’t it, how fast time flies? I got to thinking about what makes someone a good grandparent “now that I are one,” with the goal of discovering some qualities that I don’t now possess, and work toward getting better at understanding my role, because I have to admit… I am lost here!

Because I had never been a grandparent before, and even now after 17 years of practice I still consider myself lost when it comes to understanding my role… so I looked into the fountain of all wisdom – the “Internet.”

What I found was like reading a daytime soap opera. Grandparent
estrangement? Narcissism? Increasing divorce rate among grandparents? Grandchildren

being raised by grandparents because the adult parent-child is not responsible enough to care for his/her own children? On and on…

What?

As disturbing as it was, however, to read about this drama enveloping the family unit, it was even more disturbing to learn that the majority of those polled agreed that having grandparents in their children’s lives had benefit, but they didn’t know how to extract it.

So when both sides of the conflict are confused, no wonder we have, as one writer put it, “erosion within the family unit.”

Ok, I’m going to get personal here on the bet that at least a few readers of this UFI blog will relate. I’ve had my hands slapped several times because I overstepped the boundary of my YouAreNotTheParentofMyChildren status. I didn’t even know I had status to begin with, and now what little I had was taken away when my children became parents?

I soon learned that although it is not written in the grandparent’s handbook I received (wait! I didn’t get my copy) there “are” boundaries now. My past role as the leader of the pack, the solution to every problem, the get it done guy… all gone! Instead, I am “bra-man.”

I am here to “support.” Not to lead. No voice! No authority! Actually, that’s ok. I just needed to know that, because it was a change. These new parents… our adult children, are now responsible. So I need to let them be, and accept my new role… to support and to love unconditionally!

So now that we know there are boundaries… let’s set some for the adult children too. We grandparents have a life. Just because it may look like we have nothing to do when you drop in unexpectedly with high hopes for grandma and I to watch the little darling(s) while you go out for a while, it “may” be that we do (or did) but are hesitant to expose that for fear we might never see little precious again. So parents, please heed the wall plaque in our home for all to see: “Grandchildren Welcome Anytime; Parents by Appointment!

Ok, on to the next grandparent boundary… Keep your mouth shut! As Anne Rolphe, shares, as one of the 27 writers in the NYT bestselling Eye of My Heart… “Ah, my poor tongue is sore from being bitten.”

When an adult child decides to move his/her family across the ocean in pursuit of their own dreams, and takes our grandchildren with them, it is very hard not to cry and stamp our feet while yelling, “unfair – unfair!” As hard as it may be to accept, our children deserve to make their own road in life… even if the road they choose isn’t the road “we”

would have taken and it gets bumpy at times. And even if we might have saved them from making a big mistake, had they listened… no one will leave earth life without getting bruised a few times. And they will become all the better for it. So wish them the best and learn how to skype.

“I am Ari’s Grammie. I live in Dallas and he lives in New York. We don’t get to visit in person that much, so we video-chat most days. Thanks to 21st century technology, we are virtual grandparents. We have eaten dinner together, played with toys, and sung. We’ve watched him reach many milestones like walking, thanks to technology. We stay updated, though we wish we lived closer. We cherish the times we actually get to spend with him and hope there will be many more to come.” –Michele Kesner (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

Now let’s talk about a word society seems to have forgotten – Influence. A grandparent is in a wonderful position as support to grandchildren. Without skin in the game, we can observe from the bleachers and cheer and yell encouragement, and then head home before the locker room rant starts.

Yet, the wise adult child will recognize the benefit of having grandparents as an ally and not just as a guest or spectator. But parent and grandparent need to work together… and that is where the rub comes in for most. Grandparents still think they should parent and the adult child wants to show he/she is in charge, and in walks the conflict.

So grandparents, back off and remember your role, bite your tongue, and listen to what your adult children need from you in the way of “influence” over their children.

“I was extremely close to my grandparents and their presence in my life greatly formed my perceptions of food, gardening, my Swedish heritage and the essence of family love generation after generation. I couldn’t be more delighted to see my parents evolve the teachings of their parents as they interact with my 1-yr old daughter, who couldn’t love her “gamma and gampapa” more. The more love the better, and without grandparents, we’d be missing one of the most important relationships in life.” -Jamie Smith (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

My wife loves to “sit and knit,” to the point she has become very proficient in the art. One of our adult children had some concerns over the recent behavior of her soon to be teenage daughter and mentioned it to her grandmother. It so happened that our granddaughter loved “sitting and knitting” with grandmother. They would talk together during these times, and soon grandmother was able to provide some insight into the mother’s concern over the welfare of her daughter. Now that’s working together.

It helps if the adult children speak kindly and generously about the grandparent(s) in front of the children. It is amazing how much they pick up when appearing to not be listening to a word you are saying.

There is certainly more to say on the topic, for both sides to learn. But if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren to love… and if you, parents, have someone in your life who loves your children as only a grandparent can, please remember this, as quoted in Grandparents.com: “Family – we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”

Resources:

Marriage, the Kitchen, and the Bedroom

In Abstinence, Child Development, Cohabitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Families, Feminism, Gender, Human Rights, Marriage, Media, Meet UFI, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values, Violence, Women's Rights on April 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

woman in the kitchenTashica Jacobson

Laura Bunker’s recent UFI alert struck a cord with me, and I haven’t been able to get her message out of my mind. Not only did it bring up this year’s trip to the UN, which brought up wonderful memories for me, she quoted Kate Gilmore’s shocking comment at the CSW side event.

We discovered that for millions and millions of women that marriage is not much better than an arbitrary detention cell; that the kitchen is a torture chamber; that the bedroom is a site for the gravest of human rights violations.”

While it would be false to say that every marriage and family situation is good, taking the other route and advocating against the marriage institution is even more destructive. I bring up the following points in defense of the institution that can and will bring about the most good for society, if we promote strong marriages and families.

Marriage

Marriage is more than a piece of paper and it’s more than a private relationship, it is a public commitment and responsibility for one another. And it should always be viewed as more than just one individual’s happiness, even though that is part of it.

Marriage promotes many benefits to many different people. It benefits the couple and their children, and it also benefits society. And when marriage is entered into in a responsible way these benefits are even more pronounced.

Married couples are typically better off financially, physically and mentally. And they are able to fully invest in a relationship that is protected by the promise of permanence. Another benefit is pooling: couples bring their abilities, income, and skills together. And then these tools benefit both parties rather than just one individual. Overall happiness is increased by marriage, which in itself promotes positive change in lives.

Children do better when raised by their biological married parents. They do better in school and have better relationships with their parents, while the likelihood of drug use and delinquent behavior decrease.

These benefits then transfer over to society, because when the individual people benefit, the society also improves, and people have more time and resources to devote to bettering the community.

Kitchen

The kitchen is actually my favorite room in the whole house. Do I cook? NO, but it’s so much more than cooking. Growing up, the kitchen was the center of my home. It was where we gathered together at the start of our day and where we finished our day. It was where we greeted each other through the comings and goings. It is one of the things that brought us together as a family.

Research has shown the benefits of the family meals together. These benefits range from better academic performance to lower risk of delinquency and depression. Kathleen Ferrigno, the director of marketing for CASA said, “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it.” And the same could be said for the kitchen as a whole. It allows ample opportunity for family members to connect with one another.

Time in the kitchen also allows time for all members to contribute and work together. Family work has changed over time and what used to be time together, is now typically isolation. That is what needs to be avoided when doing kitchen chores. It should be a time to remember your family and the service that you are doing for them and a time to work together. Kitchen chores are one way children can feel like they are part of the family, even if they don’t enjoy completing them.

Bedroom

The bedroom and intimacy shared between husband and wife can be a source of conflict in marriage but we also need to keep in mind that it is also a way to bring a couple together and unite them in a way like no other.

When intimacy is shared within a marriage, with care and concern for the other, it enhances a marriage. And because the couple has already made the ultimate commitment to one anther it provides a safe environment to be vulnerable.

In his book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, Dr Van Epp describes the relational aspects of sex. “The primary reason why sex is always relational is because you cannot separate your body from the rest of who you are.”(p.289) meaning that casual sex is not beneficial. Sex needs to be allowed in the context of a relationship with the maximum commitment, which is the marriage relationship.

Marriage actually improves ones sex life and studies have shown married couples are actually more satisfied with their sex life. Access to partner, commitment, exclusivity, all contribute to the increased satisfaction. Care and concern for each other throughout all parts of married life contribute to care and concern in the bedroom.

 All parts of family life play an important role in strengthening the family and society, but they also add to individual safety, security, and happiness. This is why we need to continue to promote healthy families. Despite the opposition married intact families do continue to achieve the best outcomes for individuals.

Millennials and Marriage: Don’t Count Us Out Just Yet

In Divorce, Families, Marriage, Research, Values on April 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

piano duetKelsi Marie Shipley

18 – 35 year old Millennials are constantly a topic of conversation with older generations. We are too liberal. We have more opportunities than any other generation before us. We don’t have the respect that we should. Today, let’s discuss my personal favorite: we are not getting married.

Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation have a right to be concerned. When they were our age, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers, and 65% of the Silent Generation were married. Compared to the 26% of Millennials married now, there is cause for worry. However, if we don’t look at the whole picture of modern marriage, we miss the reasons why Millennials are waiting for marriage.

  A recent PEW study described three reasons why Millennials are not getting married.

First, we are not ready to settle down or feel too young.

Second, we are not financially prepared.

Lastly, we just haven’t found what we are looking for.

This leaves out the increasing rate of divorce, our friends and families failed relationships, pornography, and the many heartbreaks we have personally endured.

Right now you are probably thinking, “OK, I get it. Relationships are hard.” Yes, yes they are. Interestingly enough though, we are better off financially and emotionally when we are in safe, committed marriage relationships. While I share all of the fears listed above with my fellow Millennials, research debunks some of the myths associated with them.

Finances. You worry about them when you are single, and you worry about them when you are married. 26% of Millennials ages 18-24 do not feel financially prepared for marriage. This also applies to 34% of 25-34 year olds, and 20% of those 35 and older. Both Time magazine and CNN Money proclaim that many Millennials do not want to be married because they are uncertain about the future.

Finding a job for many college graduates is not as easy as it was ten years ago. I often worry about being able to take care of a family, or if my husband will be able to take care of us. The irony in this is that with two incomes, married couples are often better off financially than someone who is single. Married couples also have more specific goals: kids, house payment, etc. Because of this, married couples may keep better track of their finances.

Another concern is the divorce rate. If we were in person, and I asked if you knew someone who was divorced, you could probably give me the names of three or more couples. Divorce is everywhere. 40 -50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Guess what? That doesn’t have to be you.

I am personally guilty of bringing past fears into relationships. Being open with your partner and setting goals together, will help create the security that is needed to help avoid divorce. Marriage is not always going to be easy. A good marriage relationship has to be fostered daily.

For those of us who are not ready to settle down, and feel like we are too young: if you are not ready emotionally to be married, you are not ready. You should never jump into a marriage. That’s how divorce happens. However, if you are holding off because you love golf on Tuesday with your best friend, or that you can do whatever you want whenever you want, you might want to reevaluate your personal emotional readiness.

Many Millennials feel like they haven’t found the right person. Good for you! Don’t set your expectations beyond reach, but don’t settle. In a world where the divorce rate is high, financial situations dominate everything we do, and pornography is everywhere, you can’t just marry anyone.

John Bytheway, a famous youth speaker, has compared marriage to playing a duet at the piano. You have the music, you are playing it, but it does not sound quite right until someone sits next to you and plays the other part. Unfortunately not everyone knows how to play the music. Some try to play, and it doesn’t sound right, others look at it and walk away, but one day someone will sit down and the music will sound more beautiful than it ever has before.

As a Millennial, I can’t wait to sit next to the right person at the piano. Even with all of the hardships concerning marriage, I know that it can be the most satisfying relationship. To Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, don’t give up on us Millennials just yet. We have always surprised you, and will continue to do so.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/04/people-who-marry-young-are-happier-but-those-who-marry-later-earn-more/

http://time.com/3422624/report-millennials-marriage/

http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/20/news/economy/millennials-marriage/index.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/03/25/dont-worry-america-millennials-still-want-to-marry/

ONLINE PRIVACY – TODAY’S OXYMORON

In Divorce, Free Speech, Media, Pornography, Technology, Values on April 6, 2015 at 6:17 am

crazy spring break selfiesRebecca Mallory

Let’s pretend that you are a bigwig with a large company in the human resources department. You get to hire the newbies. You have a position to fill and post it online. One week later you have 200 applicants. Forty of those have passing resumes. Some of those look awesome. How do you narrow it down from there? Social media, of course. What people say and post online gives employers a much better window into future employees’ lives than any resume. Employers are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc to delve into the personal life of an applicant like never before. We all know that a resume has slightly elevated kudos about ourselves whereas what we post on Facebook tells employers volumes about who we really are. Fair? Doesn’t matter. They’re doing it. Plus, even though some states have deemed this illegal, an employer can easily make up some other reason why they didn’t hire you if they’ve discovered through Facebook, etc that they don’t want you representing their company.

Many young people view social media as vital to their freedom of expression and that they’re free to say anything they want, whether crude, vile, mean, intimately personal, etc. And they’re right. However, the unintended consequences might come back to bite them. It’s often difficult to express the correct emotion you’re feeling when posting. Are you angry? Being sarcastic? Trying to be funny? These are hard to convey through the ethernet. You have the freedom to write anything, but you don’t have the freedom to choose how a future employer might interpret that information. For example, have you complained about past jobs, bosses, co-workers, etc? Do you post hilarious selfies of you and your friends doing crazy things and having wild parties? Those might be funny to your friends, but extremely offensive to a future boss. They want someone who can professionally represent their company; not someone potentially embarrassing to their team. Turns out you have to use judgement with social media.

Just doing a small amount of research for this blog turned up numerous examples – mostly negative – of young people using social media to broadcast what they’re doing at any given moment. For instance, March is Spring Break crazy time. A time seemingly devoid of any moral behavior. I just watched a news report where a journalist went to Panama City Beach, Florida to see what was happening during Spring Break. What she found was shocking and even dangerous. College kids doing what college kids do but this year it was different. Hard illegal drugs and guns were everywhere. Guns mixed with alcohol and hard drugs?? She reported of one girl passed out on the beach with several men “having their way with her” and she had no idea it was even happening. One of the guys posted it on Twitter. How would you feel if that was your daughter? College kids up and down the beach were taking selfies and videos, apparently attempting to “one up” each other on how stupid they could be. The reporter asked one girl, “How do your parents feel about you being here?”  “_____ my parents!” Was the girl’s response. What do you think will be the result of these kids applying for that coveted job upon graduation, and having future employers make a judgement call between two seemingly qualified applicants but one appears to be wildly out of control? Even if you knew it was stupid and you’re really, really, really sorry you did it? Unintended consequences are a bummer sometimes, huh?

A perfect example of arrogant social media posting is the story of Adam Smith, an ex- CFO with a medical company in Arizona making over $200,000 a year. He thought it would be super brave to do a YouTube video of himself as he drove through a Chick-fil-A store and berated the innocent window clerk about the “hateful and terrible company that Chick-fil-A is” because of their religious stand on gay marriage. This innocent girl responded only with grace and maturity at his vile attack. This guy not only got fired the next day, but lost his house, was forced to move his wife and four kids into a trailer, and is living on food stamps. Every time he goes into a job interview, the interviewer asks, “Oh, you’re the Chick-fil-A guy, right?” and he doesn’t get the job. His personal views and principles should be respected, but not the way he treated this innocent human being. Hard lesson to learn, huh?

I know someone who was headed for divorce. He and his wife would post anything and everything about each other and their problems on Facebook. Not only is that nobody’s business, but most people don’t want to read about your dirty laundry. It’s a downer and speaks volumes about you not being respectful and loyal of sensitive relationships. Save it for the shrink, ok? You have no idea who will read that information and use it against you someday. Would you be a loyal employee if you would stoop to posting derogatory comments about your own spouse? Is it fair for someone to judge you like that? Doesn’t matter because you chose to post it for the world to see. Not that the employer cares what you say about your mean and selfish, blah, blah, blah spouse, but because of what those posts say about your character. How will you treat future colleagues? Company authority? What will you do when the going gets tough at work? Can they trust you?

Is it fair that future employers use social media to judge you as a potential hire? Absolutely! Many feel that this isn’t fair but we have such an absence of honesty in the American culture right now, that social media seems like the only place that many people don’t try to fake who they really are.  Worse than that, perhaps, are those whose posts serve one purpose: to make someone think they’re tough and cool. There’s something small and immature about posting anonymously and being vicious to another person. How cowardly to bully someone or say something vile that you wouldn’t consider saying to their face? Yet many young people think they’re safe hiding behind a computer screen to spew their anger falsely thinking that they’re the only ones who will know the truth. How naive! You posted it for the world to see!

Here’s a personal example from just this week. My piano teacher is a musician who sings and plays the piano professionally almost six nights a week. During my lesson this week we were discussing this blog topic. Boy! Did she have an opinion? She said that just the night before, she saw posted on Facebook, a post from a “prima donna” who auditioned for a  part in a performance but felt it beneath her to do what the directors were asking her to do. In her arrogance, she posted on Facebook biting and nasty comments about the directors, the music she was asked to perform, etc. You can guess the outcome. My instructor told me that not only would this girl not get the part, but that this director would see to it that she never worked another day in this state in the performing industry! So there ya go…did her insipid post come back to bite her? Self-inflicted shot in the foot.  And she may never know why.

So here’s the bottom line. Use your God-given brains before you succumb to what has become in many instances, the cesspool in social media. There is a lot of good there, but the vile and crass seem to be taking over. Please warn your children, parents, and friends. Once you press “send” your only choice is to live with the consequences of what you posted. Step away from the keyboard America! Think before you post.

Is It the Economy Again?

In Abstinence, Birth Rate, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, father, Marriage, The Family, Values on March 20, 2015 at 7:16 am

empty ring boxGary Boyd

Seth Freed Wessler, writing for nbcnews.com, charges the economy with the low percentages of married young people and the rapidly diminishing institution of the American middle-class family. As industrial and professional jobs for men that paid a living wage 50 years ago have dried up, Wessler asserts that those of traditionally marriageable age no longer give marriage a high priority, since marriage no longer secures financial stability.

In his article, Mr. Wessler uses the real-life and current example of a young couple with a child who have not married, in order to show that the economic pressures brought to bear on them have caused them to make other choices than marriage and the traditional family.   He quotes the couple and recounts their experience.

Michael Bridges and Laura McCann had a longstanding relationship. McCann came up pregnant, and delivered their baby a few months after McCann finished college. Today, they are still not married. In fact, they separated two years after the baby was born.

Statistics cited by Mr. Wessler are undoubtedly true. Marriage rates are down, when compared to 1960. Births of children to unwed parents are up. Most young couples are choosing to bypass marriage and jump directly into having kids, or avoiding both marriage and procreation. The question, however, is whether the economy can be blamed, or must we look to the erosion of morals and values.

While couples having babies today are often not staying together, would it still not behoove them to do so economically? The Earned Income Credit is not enough on which to live for a year, and even though the mother may no longer stay home full-time, are two incomes still not more than one? Does it not cost less to house two adults in one apartment than in two apartments?

The answer, regrettably, is an erosion of our values. After the baby was born, and the responsibility to its care established, McCann was quoted as saying: “We weren’t going to stay together just because we were together, if it wasn’t the right thing”.

Again, the article does not give the causes of the couple’s choice to separate. The undertones suggest possible disenchantment with each other or a desire to move in different directions. However, in the absence of abuse or infidelity, how could staying together not be the right thing? The question is one of perspective and priority.

Until the real issues are addressed, society will continue its march towards the increased barbarism and unravelling of civilization that loom inevitably before us, and away from chewed-up-and-spit-out traditional family in the trail behind us.

Appreciating Your Siblings

In Birth Rate, Child Development, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Marriage, The Family, Values on March 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

siblingsTashica Jacobson

My Nutrition and Foods teacher, in high school, was a fun talkative lady. She cared about each of her students and had unique way of getting us to look at the world. One day she told us that both of her parents were only children…which at first doesn’t appear too unusual. It’s not unheard of to be an only child. But then she told us to think about what this meant and how that would influence her life. “It means,” she told us, “that my parents have no siblings, but that I also have no uncles, aunts, or cousins. So you can imagine how much fun family reunions are.”

Her statement made me take a moment to look at my siblings and gain an even greater appreciation for having them. Not only will I have an amazing support system throughout all of my life because of them, but I have so many adventures and good memories already because of each one of them. Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll be able to tell you that my siblings are an enormous part of my life. I could write a whole book on how amazing each of them is, but for this paper I’ll look at the benefits that siblings have on each other throughout all of life.

Our siblings  affect how we relate to other people, how we see ourselves, and provide the support system that we will have in later years. These relationships accomplish all of this because “it’s a bond unlike any other that we have in our lives.” This is why parents are encouraged to promote affection and closeness between their children.

Health

Studies have shown that having siblings can lead us to be more active and healthy. That a blessing to have a constant playmate. Activities that require physical activity like sports, tag, water fights, or hiking, are activities that more often require someone to do them with. Even eating habits improve because of siblings. When children have someone close in age to base food intake on, they eat smaller portions, and healthier foods.

Social skills

Positive social skills are more easily developed because of interaction with siblings. Brothers and sisters provide an opportunity to interact with peers on a daily basis. It provides a chance for children to do good deeds for one another and allows for positive interactions. Even fighting provides an opportunity for siblings to learn. Children are able to learn social rules regarding conflict. They learn how to control their emotions and work through their frustrations with other people, along with developing forgiveness, compromise, and sympathy. Mastering these traits helps us in all of our relationships throughout life; having good relationships with siblings, has even been shown to decrease the likelihood of divorce.

Mental Health

Mental health is also improved when siblings have good relationships with one another. They lend support to each other, provided a listening ear, and give children someone “who’s got their back.” A child’s likelihood of depression is decreased when they have  siblings that are dealing with the same family crisis and stresses as they are. This support system extends into later life as siblings often become each other’s closest friends in adulthood. From them we also have an extended support system in aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews. This support system encourages individuals to take on challenges, and stay positive during difficult situations. Mental health benefits are also seen specifically when we have sisters. A combination of studies found that “having a sister protects adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful.”

Every situation with siblings is unique. Age differences, gender, and overall experiences will vary but I can speak from personal experience that having siblings is fun. And more than that it provides opportunities for growth and learning. The friendships and support that we develop with them will continue throughout childhood and be a factor even in later life. Healthy sibling relationships should be promoted and cherished.

The American Dream

In Divorce, Marriage on January 30, 2015 at 12:57 am

WeddingMarriage is the American dream. That dream is displayed through the million dollar weddings that are plastered and posted on every magazine.

 

By Lisa Stewart

This infatuation is  also exhibited through the breaking news stories of same-sex marriage activists trying to achieve the dream of marriage. We also see it in the sweet newspaper clippings that list the latest marriages of those close by. Marriage is put into young minds with once upon a time stories of princesses and prince charmings. It is pinned all over Pinterest, and posted on Facebook. It is even searched for on national television by people all over the world. Marriage is a dream that is searched for earnestly and it can be wonderful once the right person comes along. However, “marriage is rapidly slipping away…[couples] are significantly less likely to achieve a stable marriage, or even to form one in the first place.” Now days, once marriage is found it is easily given up on. “For first marriages recently formed, between 40 and 50 percent are likely to end in divorce. The divorce rate for remarriages is even higher than that for first marriages.” This rapid decline of stable marriages has raised the question of why are marriages falling apart so easily. Is this happening because the norms of society have changed through the years?   Or, are there really that many people who are so unhappy with their marriage that divorce seems like the only option?

What changed?

There has obviously been a change in society’s views on marriage. During the 70’s era, there was a rise in individualism. People changed their focus on first doing what was best for themselves. During this time, there was a huge fluctuation in the divorce rates. It went from extremely low in the 60’s to an all time high in the 80’s. Individualism does not promote relationships, giving to another person, or acting in a loving manner. It promotes providing for yourself and yourself alone. There are also those that believe that marriage is just for pleasure, and divorce is for when that pleasure wears off. Many have even followed the trend of starter marriages, with the intent to end in the marriage in divorce. However, it seems that despite the trends, most people still believe that marriage is the American dream and would like to see it happen in their own lives.

Through this search for individualism, many Americans have become much more focused on themselves and first loving themselves. This habit of constant self-gratification has distorted the view of many who have developed this habit. This mindset encourages the individual to back down when life gets hard. Our natural senses convince us that do not want to get hurt or that we don’t want to work unnecessarily hard at something, especially if it is not causing us happiness at the moment.  Divorce has become a popular solution for when things get tough. “Too often a good marriage is taken for granted rather than given the nurturing and respect it deserves and desperately needs. Some people may think that getting divorced rather than languishing in what they may deem an unhappy marriage is no big deal—they may even consider it trendy. But there’s now plenty of evidence documenting just how harmful this can be for all involved.” Marriages can be saved and they are worth saving. Though marriage can be difficult, divorce is not the immediate solution.

Can this marriage be saved?

If both individuals are willing to do what it takes to change themselves and sacrifice for the other person, they can have a successful and happy marriage. Goddard stated that, “Relationships that cannot be salvaged are rare. … Even science shows the blessings of persistence. Research found that 80 percent of those who reported being unhappy in the marriages, but who did not divorce, five years later described their marriage as either ‘very happy’ or ‘quite happy.’” If a couple remembers that love is not as much a noun as it is a verb, they will have a new perspective of their marriage. Dallin H. Oaks stated, “Marriage is like a human life, it is a precious, living thing. If our bodies are sick, we seek to heal them. We do not give up. While there is any prospect of life, we seek healing again and again. The same should be true of our marriages.”

The action of love should be seen as one of the ways that we can heal our marriages. Instead of feeling love for your companion, showing your love would be a better way to feel your love for them. When an individual puts time and effort into something or in this case someone, there is an emotional tie that is formed that is much stronger than enjoying the things that it can do for you. As an effort is made to begin loving or serving your companion instead of waiting to feel love, your marriage will thrive with happiness.

However, we also have seen that some marriages are not always salvageable. No one can force someone to change and therefore, if one member of the couple is unwilling to change it cannot always work out. When the unchangeable part of a person is dangerous to the other person through abuse, unfaithfulness, or other extenuating circumstances, it is sometimes advisable to end the marriage after much thought and deliberation.

Ultimately it is up each of us as individuals. You are the one who is in the relationship and therefore, you are the one who is going to be able to best judge the situation. Each couple and individual that faces the possibility and the sadness of divorce should assess the condition of their marriage and then see what they think is going to be best. Marriage or divorce, neither should be taken lightly. Our children and our society are counting on us.

Lisa StewartLisa Stewart is a student at BYU-Idaho, majoring in Marriage and Family Studies.   Her education and the knowledge gained has caused her to have a deeper love and appreciation for her own family.  Her hope is to share her knowledge and help others build stronger relationships and families.  

The Lowdown on “Shacking Up:” Ten Points to Consider Before You Move in with Your Significant Other

In Abstinence, Cohabitation, Courts, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Education, Families, Government, Marriage, Media, Polls, Research, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values on January 19, 2015 at 8:30 am

cohabitation 2Elise Ellsworth

“Should we move in together?” Many couples living together today never paused to consider this question. Living together relationships are becoming increasingly popular, especially among twenty-somethings. There are some very common sense reasons for this type of living arrangement: Lots of people do it now. How can living together be very bad if 4.2 million U.S. adults engage in the practice? You learn if you work well as a couple before making a major marriage commitment. A recent article from a modern relationships website pointed out that “couples who live together learn about each other and start to form an identity working as a team.” They can learn (or not) how to balance their relationship, careers, and even finances together. It makes more financial sense. The current U.S. tax system penalizes low-income married individuals with children. It’s easier this way. If you decide to go your separate ways there’s no messy divorce, no courtroom and legal drama.

But here are some well-researched facts to consider about cohabitation. If you decide to cohabit you are:

  1. More likely to divorce if you marry – That’s right – seems counterintuitive – but the statistics show that couples who live together before marriage are actually more likely to divorce. You are also less likely to be satisfied with your marriage. There has been one widely publicized study which claimed to have debunked the divorce data but its results are controversial as they apply to a narrow group of couples who – among other characteristics – only ever cohabited with persons they married and who were engaged when they began cohabitation.
  2. Quite likely to break up before you marry – About 45% of cohabitation relationships break up before marriage. A CDC study showed that after 10 years 62% of cohabiting couples as compared to 33% of married couples will have called it quits.
  3. Less Happy (on Average) – That’s right – married couples are generally happier than couples who live together.
  4. More Likely to Experience Depression – Research has shown that individuals in a living together arrangement are much more likely to experience depression.
  5. Have a Greater Chance that Your Partner Will Cheat on You – A study by Judith Treas and Deirdre Giesen showed that cohabiting couples are twice as likely to experience infidelity within the relationship as married couples.
  6. Not necessarily better off financially – The article “Why Marriage Makes Financial Sense” points out that the high costs of separate insurance plans, loans and even middle class taxes can more than negate the effects of the marriage tax penalty which applies only to low income individuals.
  7. Less Healthy and Less Productive than Your Married Friends – Yes, that’s right. Married couples live longer, are more physically and mentally healthy, and are more productive than their cohabiting counterparts.
  8. More Likely to Experience Domestic Violence and Abuse (if female) – For females, cohabiting is a dangerous arrangement with a study by University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite showing that 16% of women reported that arguments became physical in cohabitation relationships as compared to 5% of married women.
  9. Less Likely to Have a Satisfying Sexual Relationship – The same study done by Linda showed that married couples have more satisfying sex lives than those of their cohabiting counterparts.
  10. In a relationship that is harmful to children – Children in these unions suffer terrible consequences. A recent federal study of child abuse and neglect showed that children living with a parent cohabiting with an unmarried partner are more than 10 times as likely to be abused and five times more likely to be neglected than children living with married parents. The same study showed that children who live with their own parents who are unmarried but cohabiting are five times as likely to be abused and six times as likely to be neglected as children living with married biological parents.

If couples think that cohabitation comes without consequences they are misled. The ease of entering into a living together arrangement belies its serious consequences.

KITES AND TENTS

In Abortion, Cohabitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Families, father, Health Care, Marriage, Parenting, Pornography, Religion, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values on December 5, 2014 at 7:27 am

tentMaddie Gillel

Our family was flying a kite a few years ago, having a great time watching the kite fly higher and higher. One of the grandchildren asked what would happen if we cut the string? She thought it would surely continue climbing higher and higher! We told her ‘nope, the kite will crash to the ground.’

We’ve all been camping in tents under different circumstances: girls’ camp, family camp, back yard sleep outs, scout camp, etc. There is always someone in the group who thinks it’s funny to quietly undo the stakes, watch the tent collapse and the girls (usually) inside scream and yell and scramble to escape – much to the delight of the ‘boys’ (usually) who did this.

These 2 examples of a recreational facet of life, have provided an allegory for other more serious lessons of life.

MORAL PRINCIPLES ARE THE LIFELINE TO AN ABUNDANT, HAPPY, PURPOSEFUL LIFE. Many think that religion/ principles, are restrictive and freedom ending, when in actuality, these religious beliefs and moral principles are the stakes that hold the tents up and the kite string that keeps the kite aloft!

These principles teach us faith in God, honesty, love, hard work, cheerfulness, responsibility, integrity, virtue, chastity, courage, financial comfort, education, confidence, respect, and many, many others.

What are the symptoms of a life whose kite has crashed to the ground and/or their tent has collapsed? Drug abuse, divorce, financial problems, inadequate education, premature health issues, early death, sexual abuse, physical abuse, pornography, abortion, suicide, hopelessness, anger, murder, prison, emotional illness, discomfort in polite society, loss of self-esteem and self -respect, estrangement from family, and on and on.

We all know people who have professions that are quite lucrative and prestigious and yet their home life/personal life have issues (smoking/ drinking/drugs, philandering, dishonesty) and sooner or later that personal life spills over into the professional life and either weakens it or destroys it.

We had a friend years ago whom we loved dearly. He was charming and generous and fun to be with. However, his personal life was not so pleasant. He lived with several women, was married 3 times and had children with each. He was an alcoholic and we watched his professional life slowly dissolve. He was an orthopedic surgeon and between child support and alimony he was barely making it.   In the end he was selling items in a multi-level-marketing venture. He died at age 60 from brain cancer. Such a sad commentary on a life.

Life is real and full of lessons and choices. How it’s lived is up to each person.

A Return to Stability

In Abortion, Child Development, Cohabitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Families, father, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Same-Sex Marriage, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values on November 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm

family stabilityTashica Jacobson

Embarrassingly I admit that four years ago many of my attitudes were anti-family. Now don’t jump to conclusions I wasn’t an extremist. However I was at the point that I had given up on the ideal of marriage. I had seen so many horrible relationships and family breakups, that I had given into my naïve thoughts and decided that a good family was pointless and that there was no point trying. I turned into a skeptic questioning everyone’s happily ever after and anyone that strived for the ideal. Slowly I came to realize that the opposite of a broken family is not to avoid creating a family, rather it is a healthy stable family. Not only did I need to learn that, it is what our society needs a reminder of today.

Families not only play a role in shaping individual lives but in shaping society and the stability of our nation. The family is the unit that connects the past, the present, and the future. This unit also has the greatest impact on how we will live our lives. However the importance of the natural family for both individuals and society is being lost in today’s policies and values.

Threats to the nuclear family are becoming more prevalent. However these alternative family forms cannot provide the same stable environment. They are more prone to dissolution and unhealthy transitions. Cohabitation, single parent homes, homosexual marriage and childrearing, and divorce are all on the rise and are becoming more accepted by society.

Cohabiting couples “rate of separation is five times that of married couples,” and children living in these unions are more likely to experience both physical and sexual abuse. Homosexual relationships have a higher rate of breakup and promiscuity. Divorce breaks up a child established environment and has lifelong consequences for the parents and the child. And research is still clear that the healthiest place for a child, both for physical safety and healthy development, remains an intact family structure with both biological parents in the home.

The Witherspoon Institute in their publication Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles states “the clear preponderance of the evidence shows that intact, married families are superior—for adults and especially for children—to alternative family arrangements.” The traditional family brings mother, father, sister, and brother, together. The main focus is to unite all individuals in the system for the greatest good; however when we change the family structure we no longer focus on unity of the parts, but rather on the personal desires of individuals.

Research shows that when families have unhealthy or extreme transitions, such as severe financial troubles or family dissolution, children are affected. They experience “toxic stress” due to the abrupt and constant adversity, which affects their development. The likelihood of these negative stressors and transitions increase in alternative family forms. Stable families provide many benefits to children, such as emotional health, academic performance, sense of identity, and safety. These benefits not only help the child to thrive, but are a benefit to society.

We must keep in mind that “marriage is not simply a private relationship. It is a public and social institution that, when entered into as a life-long endeavor, generates an unappreciated level of human and social capital.” Families not only have an effect on those within them but also on those outside their boundaries. Our attitudes and behaviors on our own family structure will influence how others view marriage and family life, in general, and how culture defines the family.

 

When we turn away from natural marriage in the slightest we are creating a less than ideal for society. “When marital breakdown or the failure to form marriages becomes widespread, society is harmed by a host of social pathologies, including increased poverty, mental illness, crime, illegal drug use, clinical depression, and suicide.” Family dissolution requires greater government involvement in our lives. This is seen in the legal system and welfare system. While married intact families help the economy and promote economic growth, these stable families help society by providing a source of permanence and stability for individuals to grow and develop. It links individuals together through social ties and expands resources actually increasing wealth.

 

When we encourage alternative family forms we promote alternative lifestyle, ones which are not conducive to the development of a child nor the development of society. When we accept alternative family forms we by default accept the things that come with it; broken family ties, promiscuity, permanently motherless and fatherlessness, poor developmental outcomes, financial troubles, and a host of other negative outcomes. Not only do we accept them, we set them as comparable alternatives to the ideal.

However change is possible in individual lives. I went through a dramatic change and know that it is possible for others, and if in individual lives then eventually in society as a whole. What we need to aim for is a return to stability. We can’t forget that there is an ideal, and this ideal creates stable home environments for children so that they can grow and contribute to a healthy society. We need to let our voices be heard as we vote and promote the healthiest family structure. Let people know that the ideal is still possible and aim for it in your own life.

 

 

 

 

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