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Archive for the ‘father’ Category

Bullying? Seriously?

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, The Family on March 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

fists young and oldGary Boyd

As a blogger for UFI, I scan the news each week for stimulating news to write about and comment on. Sometimes, I struggle, taking a while to find anything that I can say anything meaningful about. This week, however, I went almost immediately to a story on sibling bullying that made me boil.

The article, Sibling Bullying More Common Than Schoolyard Torment, Study Shows, equates sibling rivalry to bullying, and states that more bullying occurs on the top bunk than at school. Tracy Connor, the author, goes on to say that those finding themselves  on the victim side of sibling bullying tend to normalize it. The author also makes brief mention of parent-child bullying.

This asinine article on sibling bullying proves that we have made way too much of bullying as a society. I grew up in a family of six boys. Being the oldest, I concede that I rarely treated my brothers with kindness, or they each other, or me. I regret some of the persecution I put my brothers through, when all I stood to gain from it was the satisfaction of hearing their cries of fear and frustration. At the same time, though, at school and in other social settings, being fairly small for my age and quite uncoordinated, I took my share of abuse from others. We lived according to a societal pecking order. When I walked out of the door, I was pretty close to the bottom. At home, however, I reigned supreme, after my folks, of course.

In retrospect, however, I am grateful for my trials, though difficult they seemed to me at the time. My brothers have all, except for the youngest, who was constantly shielded from bullying by my parents, turned out to be tough, both mentally and physically. I hasten to add that I do not approve of the mistreatment of others, but the natural occurrence of some maltreatment certainly serves a purpose, and might be better left unfettered. Furthermore, discipline by parents of children serves an even greater purpose, and at times, depending on the child and nature of the offense, the discipline may need to be meted with some severity. A great man, James E. Faust, once said: “If we do not discipline our children, society may do it in a way that is not to our liking or our children’s”.

Is it not better for a youth to gain experience through hard experience that may be managed within the home, rather than on the street, where his offended fellows and law enforcement officers will exercise far less restraint than siblings or parents in the home? Let us address the real problem: It is not a lack of ability that children have to deal with bullying, whether by siblings or otherwise. I do not doubt Connor’s statement that those exposed to sibling bullying are more likely to suffer emotionally later in life. But, is it really from the bullying?

If I persist in working out each day, but fail to eat properly, my body will eventually break down. Will children not do the same emotionally when bullied, in the absence of adequate love and support from parents and siblings, but especially parents? The bullying can certainly do damage, but it may be that it does damage as the workout might do damage. Not because the bullying is inherently dangerous, but that our homes and families and the proper relationships we should find within have been dismantled to such a degree that they no longer carry out their functions. Thus, the only way to remedy the problem is shielding children from adversity that in many instances may be both healthy and necessary.

Furthermore, what kind of a society are we, adults, grooming the next generation to be? Do you think that the World War II generation would have had the toughness to win the war had none of them ever been mixed up in regular fist fights, or received harsh discipline at times from parents? Do not those who have made great names for themselves in all kinds of endeavors often attribute their success to opposition they faced early on? James Polk and Harry Truman might have something to say along these lines.

There is much more I could say on this topic, but I will close with a poem by Douglas Malloch that summarizes the whole issue of adversity, which we seem anxious to eliminate at every turn:

The Tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out in the open plain

And always got its share of rain,

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing.

 

The man who never had to toil

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man

But lived and died as he began.

 

Good timber does not grow with ease:

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.

 

Where thickest lies the forest growth,

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.

Is This Not Tyranny?

In adoption, Constitution, Courts, Defense of Marriage Act, Democracy, Diane Robertson, DOMA, Families, father, Free Speech, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Marriage, Non-Discrimination, Parental Rights, Proposition 8, Religious Freedom, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexual Freedom, Sexual Orientation, Values on March 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

tyranny alertDiane Robertson

Tyranny is defined as cruel and oppressive government or rule, or cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. Countries that embrace religious freedom are typically free from tyranny, while those nations who insist on certain beliefs lean toward tyranny.

Nations with a state enforced religion such as Saudi Arabia or communist nations where established religions are banned like China, offer little to no religious freedom.

In the most tyrannical countries in the world, the one thing the government can never enforce or stifle is thought and belief. Unless a person declares or publicizes their thoughts and beliefs, laws can have no hold over them. Everyone in the entire world can believe or think what they will.

With the exception of violent acts, for a nation to be free of tyranny, that nation must allow the people to speak their mind and act on their beliefs without punishment. Man is only free when he can live according to his conscience.

Religious freedom has been the norm in the western world for more than two centuries. However, things are changing. Due to mass embracing of secularism and “sexual rights” in these nations, those freedoms are rapidly eroding.

Laws have been made and enforced that disallow people to speak or act on certain beliefs.

In my state, the legislature is working on forming a law that will allow the LGBT community protections for housing while still allowing people to live according to their beliefs. I like this sort of compromise. But as I started reading comments from a local online newspaper, I realized that many people do not want a compromise. Many comments were along these lines:

“Offering exemptions for discrimination on religious grounds is immoral.”

“If their ‘line of work’ is the wedding industry perhaps they should choose a line of work more suited to their belief system.”

“Religious leaders already have religious protections, its called the 1st Amendment… if you give people the right to discriminate outside of an religious organizations, you’ll open a can of worms that will be headed for court, wasting tax payer dollars in the mean time on a court case that won’t win.”

“Really? Have your “marriage beliefs” been outlawed? Not in the least; you can still believe anything you want, you just can’t use your beliefs against your customers. It is not the business of a business to make value judgements about their customers.”

 

There are hundreds such comments from people who feel like freedom to think or believe something should be enough, unless it is what they think or believe— they want the right to act on their beliefs. In fact, they want the government to enforce people to act only according to an approved set of actions– theirs. Well give the government something to regulate and enough people telling them to do so and the government will.

Today many people who dare to disclose their beliefs or act on them are in trouble. They are being fired from their jobs, fined absurd amounts of money, and forced to undergo change of belief training, politely called “sensitivity” training.

A judicial magistrate in England has been suspended for privately stating his belief that children need a mother and a father. According to the Daily Mail:

“Richard Page told colleagues behind closed doors during an adoption case that he thought it would be better for a child to be brought up in a traditional family rather than by a gay couple.

He was shocked a week later when he found he had been reported to the judges’ watchdog for alleged prejudice, and was suspended from sitting on family court cases.

He has also been ordered to go on an equality course before he is allowed back in the courtroom.”

We have all heard about Baronelle Stutzman, the Christian florist being sued by her State Attorney General for referring a gay couple to another florist for the couple’s wedding. And then there’s the photographer in New Mexico, and the bakers in Colorado and Oregon.

There’s also the CEO of Firefox fired for donating to his state’s marriage amendment campaign.

A couple in New York had to pay a fine and undergo sensitivity training for refusing to use the home they lived in for gay wedding ceremonies, and a police officer in Utah was fired for asking to direct traffic instead of performing motorcycle stunts in the Gay Pride Parade.

Is this not cruel and oppressive rule or unreasonable, and arbitrary use of power or control? Is this not the definition of tyranny?

It certainly knows no bounds. Those enforcing this new sexual secularism in our nations will say, “if your religion does not allow you to do what I say, then just change your line of work.” But as time goes, it becomes clearer and clearer that no line of work is exempted. Judges, lawyers, doctors, school teachers, business owners of all sorts, and even computer programmers have not been exempted. No one is exempt. It’s clear that if these sexual secularists could find a way for the government to regulate thought and belief, they would. In the meantime, they are doing what they can to intimidate all who do not believe as they do, and to do only what they approve.

 

 

Progress Not Perfection

In Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on March 3, 2015 at 8:02 am

hiking togetherNathalie Bowman

The Quest for Perfection is all consuming. Many women have an ideal of the perfect life, and beat themselves up for not being able to attain it, or they put on a mask and pretend they’re perfect even though they know they’re not. Neither way brings happiness. What, really, is “perfect”?

There are as many definitions of perfect as there are people trying to attain it. Think about how you would define your perfect self. Does the thought bring you joy? Or does it feel heavy? The never ending pursuit of perfection can get old fast, but somehow, we still manage to want it, thinking it will do us some good.

Instead of perfection, how about having joy in the journey and recognizing progress?  It reminds me of the time I hiked the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim in one day; it was over 23 miles. We started early in the morning, and hiked in darkness with only a flashlight to guide our way for the first several hours on the trail. I wanted to be “perfect” and make a good impression, because this was my first official date with my boyfriend (who later became my husband). As we went on, the sunrise was beautiful and the day began to get warm. By the time we got to the bottom of the canyon, I was a bit worn, but we still had the most difficult part of the hike ahead of us-going up the South Rim. I was getting worried about my strength to make it all the way up.

I knew my boyfriend enjoyed the great outdoors as much as I did, and I wanted it to be the perfect day as I made a grand impression on him. As we went up the steep switchback trail, he was holding my hand to keep me going up the trail at his pace, which was faster than mine.

I felt like I was going to throw up. My body did not want to take one more step, but I kept going. I was so grateful for the resting points along the way. Finally we made it up to the top, and it was beautiful. In spite of my desire to impress and be “perfect,” the journey wasn’t perfect–I made my boyfriend wait for me to rest when he may have preferred to go on; we had to wait for mule trains to pass us; we were tired and sore and thirsty. But we made it, one step after another. The beauty was in the progress along the way, even though our experience didn’t fill my “perfect” expectations. In spite of it all, we look back at that experience with wonder and awe because of the progress we made together.

It’s about progress, not perfection. Life can be like my experience hiking the canyon–at first I wanted it all perfect.  Then as we pushed on through the journey, I realized that the perfection was in the progress, not in the unattainable ideal.

Progress is putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.

It’s getting up in the morning to care for our families or go to work when we’d really rather stay in bed.

It’s doing the little things that add up and that help us along the way.

Progress is forgiving ourselves when we make mistakes, letting go, and moving past the frustration.

Taking steps and acknowledging our progress creates peace and confidence, even through the hard days.

Next time you start getting uptight because you’re not “perfect,” take a deep breath and find evidence of the good things–even if it’s little steps-and banish those thoughts of “perfection!” It’s always good to improve yourself, to set goals and move forward, and the easiest way to do that is to let go of the myth of “perfection,” love yourself as you are, and enjoy your progress.  

 

 

No, Mama, Money Can’t Buy My Love

In Child Development, Drug Use, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values, working mothers on February 26, 2015 at 9:19 am

dad and son playing chessElise Ellsworth

Christian preacher and theologian Peter Marshall once counseled a couple whose family was being ripped apart by excessive materialism – “What good is a beautiful house,” he asked, “filled with expensive furniture, if there isn’t any love between those who live inside the house? What good are expensive clothes and beautiful adornment if there aren’t love, contentment, and happiness in the hearts of the people wearing the clothes?” (A Man Called Peter, 143). These are questions worthy of our consideration in today’s increasingly materialistic world.

The modern quest for more and better stuff has taken a toll on the family. Studies show that materialism is harmful to happiness, to marriages and to children. Of course, a certain amount of material things are necessary to our physical and spiritual wellbeing. And there are some very good parents – my own included – who have been blessed materially. However, the addictive covetousness of “keeping up with the Joneses” has caused many adults to work longer hours and to spend more time in consumption activities. In the process, they have neglected their families. Name brand clothing, fancy cars, restaurant food, expensive furnishings and electronic gadgets are poor substitutes for eating, talking, listening, recreating, learning, laughing and playing with our children.

One example of a place where this destructive cycle of consumption has taken its toll is the country of Great Britain. In 2007, a UNICEF survey of child welfare ranked Great Britain at the bottom of industrialized countries.

The study found that British children were two times more likely to have been drunk by the age of fifteen and significantly less likely to be in two parent families than children elsewhere. They were also more likely to have tried drugs and had one of the worst diets in the developed world.

A follow up survey in 2011 found that British parents were failing in large part because of obsessive materialism. They spent long hours away from home in the quest to provide more material goods for their family. Meanwhile, their children were being raised by poor parental substitutes – including television and digital media.

The author of the 2011 study, Agnes Nairn, discovered that: “While children would prefer time with their parents to heaps of consumer goods, [their] parents seem to find themselves under tremendous pressure to purchase a surfeit of material goods for their children.” This pressure left parents “too tired” for time together with their families.

The British are not the only ones trapped by compulsive materialism. Many of us in today’s world have fallen prey to the false notion that buying more things will increase our happiness. Have all these things that we are seeking bought us anything but a hollow empty place in our souls? We cannot buy true friendship. We cannot buy love.

What are some nonmaterial things that we can give our children and families? Here are some ideas from a list compiled by veteran teacher Erin Kurt, who asked students in classrooms across the world what they appreciated about their parents: “Tuck your children in at bedtime. Sing them a song. Hug and kiss them. Tell them that you love them. Talk with them privately. Discipline your children. Leave special messages on their pillows or in their lunch bag.” Your time will mean far more to them than anything you can buy. And it won’t cost you a dollar.

Who Should Provide the Care?

In Birth Rate, Breastfeeding, Child Development, Courts, Diane Robertson, Families, Family Planning, father, Government, Health Care, Human Rights, Marriage, motherhood, Parental Rights, Parenting, Single Mothers, The Family, Values, Women's Rights, working mothers on February 25, 2015 at 7:43 am

pregnant and workingDiane Robertson

Last December the Supreme Court heard arguments about the workplace and pregnancy. A pregnant employee wanted UPS to accommodate her pregnancy by switching her to a job where she would not have to lift heavy packages. UPS refused, so the woman took unpaid leave while keeping her health insurance, and later sued in federal court stating that the UPS didn’t adhere to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

In my home state, a bill has come before the legislature asking that pregnancy and breast feeding be included in the state non-discrimination law. Again the question becomes how much should employers do to accommodate pregnancy and breast feeding.

Along the same lines as the UPS case, new science is warning about the necessity of prenatal care and the possibility that a stressful job during pregnancy could cause a lifetime of health problems for the unborn child.

As the mother of 10 children. I fully understand that pregnant and breast feeding women need care and accommodation. It takes a lot of energy and nutrition to build a person. But who should care for and accommodate women and their children?

The question comes down to this: should the government mandate the care of the mother and baby to the woman’s employer? To me this question is not one of rights and regulations, but one of families.

This week, I read a rather sobering article. It said that 54% of children will not be raised in a home with both their mother and father. Many of these are abandoned mothers left to fend for themselves and their children. The majority of families are not taking care of their own.

This question would not have been asked in the past. In the past, families took care of their own. The father stayed with the mother and worked hard enough to support his family. When a father failed, the woman’s parents, siblings, or other extended family took over this care. I think the care of mothers and children should be on the shoulders of the families.

Instead of mandating that employers provide the needed care for mothers and babies, maybe the government should look at other policies that have encouraged this adult-centric world where sexual desires trump the essential needs of vulnerable women and children. The needs are real.

What do you think? Who should provide the care?

Take a Vacation…You need it more than you realize

In Child Development, Families, father, Media, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on February 23, 2015 at 6:41 am

family skiingCaitlin Woolbert

So many sources today steal time away from our families. They try to get our children to place priority and trust in the wrong places such as media or popularity. As wonderful as it is to have friends, what our kids really need are great FAMILIES where they know they will be safe and loved. The home needs to be where our children learn important lessons and make decisions so they will feel confident with themselves and their ability to make good choices when they are not in the home. Knowing this, family time should be our number one goal. With all of the temptations our children face it is essential that we make time to teach important lessons.

A great way to spend quality time with your family is by taking family vacations. Here are five benefits of Recreation:

  1. Recreation provides time and opportunity for better communication.
  2. Recreation allows for families to set time aside specifically for the family, where their main priority is the family well-being.
  3. Provides an opportunity to work as a team and for the parents to see their kids accomplish tasks.
  4. Provides opportunities for praises.
  5. Provides opportunities for reliance on one another to accomplish tasks. (Build trust)

Family vacations are stressful for parents. “Trying to manage children during family outings can be a real challenge. But what often happens is that we as parents have good experiences, and, although we may not know it, our children are probably having great experiences.”  Mark Widner, BYU ProfessorRecreation Management and Youth Leadership.

In Widmer’s article he shares a great example of this. “Charles Francis Adams was a son of the second president of the United States, a successful lawyer, and ambassador to Great Britain. Although he had little free time, one day he took his son fishing. In his diary, he wrote, “Went fishing with my son today. A day wasted.” On that same day, his son wrote “Went fishing with my father today, the most wonderful day of my life.” Spending time with your children is important to them.

Think back to a time in your childhood that you would describe as joyful. Chances are good that most of these will relate to your family in some form or shape. Some of my greatest memories come from spending time with my family. When we are gathered together as a family we often bring up memories from past family vacations. These experiences help us grow closer.

I encourage you to make time today to be with your family. Sit down and plan family vacations. You won’t regret it, and lasting memories will be made for you and your children.

References

Huff, C. (2002). The influence of challenging family outdoor recreation on parent-adolescent communication. (Master’s thesis)Retrieved from http://search.lib.byu.edu/byu/id:byu2907931

Widmer, M. (2004). Strengthening marriages and families through wholesome recreation. Retrieved from http://marriageandfamilies.byu.edu/issues/2004/Summer/wholesomerecreation.aspx

 

Stress with Families

In Child Development, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, Religion, Research, The Family, Values on February 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

family holding hands 2Tashica Jacobson

Many joys come from family life. It allows us to be in a situation where we can give and receive love, feel fulfillment, and accomplish goals. But that does not mean that it is without its challenges. Having a family and even dealing with life’s daily challenges can be very difficult. Even planned events that people anticipate still bring their share of stress, such as pregnancy or weddings. While unplanned events, like unemployment and death, can be even more stressful. Whatever the cause of these stressful situations, families need to have the means to effectively cope with them.

In one of my classes my professor instructed a group of students to stand in a circle and hold hands; and then to remain holding hands throughout. He then went around the circle and moved different individuals to see how the whole group would respond. At one point he pulled a student back, at another time he pushed a student into the middle of the group. Each time everyone in the group reacted and moved to keep the circle together and to keep from falling over, sometimes stepping back other times moving inward so that they could remain intact.

This example illustrates how all members of a family are effected by change. One member may be effected by the direct pressure, but all members feels its effects. That is why all family members need to be aware and work together to overcome challenges as they arise.

Families need to develop the ability to be resilient. Family resilience is the ability of families to adapt and rebound to stressful situations. This quality is very desirable and allows individuals as well as the whole family to effectively deal with events. While resilience appears to come easier to some, it is a quality that can be developed in all families. It creates a different way of looking at life experiences, and how we view a situation has a large influence in how we respond.

One of the most basic models used to demonstrate family stress and coping is Hill’s ABCX model. The idea behind this theory is that the outcome of the experience is not only determined by the event itself but other factors. There are three parts to every trial A- the actual event, B- the family’s resources, and C- the perception or cognitions. All of these added together equals X- or the actual event. Thus A+B+C=X.

Some of the resources that families have are flexibility, connectedness, and social and economic support. When families view a trial in these terms it increases their resilience. Families can work on flexibility by allowing change to happen but still creating a stable environment and schedule. Equal partnership in marriage also allows for flexibility. Each spouse can play to their own strengths and still work together. When couples do this their children see them as united and the set rules that come from this unity allow for clarity even within the midst of a crisis.

Connectedness is “the emotional and structural bonding among family members.” Not surprisingly when families are close they respond better to crisis because they are aware of each members needs as well as the support of each member. Commitment also plays a role in connectedness, since members who are committed to each other are more likely to work to help one another.

Families fare better when they acknowledge and accept the resources that they have. And these resources can come in various ways. They can be community organizations that are able to lend assistance. They might also be social support in a variety of forms; friends and family are the most commonly thought of, but it could also be support groups or religious organization.

When families view their trails in terms of resources and outcomes they are more able to more effectively deal with them. This allows them to create shared meaning from the experience and grow closer together as they cope with stressors whether they are planned or unplanned.

What About the Children?

In adoption, Child Development, Families, father, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Marriage, Parenting, Same-Sex Marriage, The Family, Values on February 19, 2015 at 6:54 am

child 3Kristen Jan Cannon

I recently came across a letter written by a woman who was raised by lesbian parents. In this letter, her thoughts are directed to a Supreme Court justice, and she goes onto explain to him that redefining marriage in society will ultimately fail to protect the rights of a very important population in our society:

Children.

You can read her letter here. And I recommend that you do.

While it is absolutely justified that gay couples should receive equal treatment in regards to taxes, housing, and employment opportunities, changing the definition of marriage in society should not be treated as an adult only issue.

Because it is not an adult only issue.

And isn’t it the government’s duty to protect everyone, including the most vulnerable among us? Shouldn’t the government strive to promote equality for every citizen?

Are children not counted as citizens, too?

The largest scientific study so far on the effects of same-sex parenting outcomes was just published this month, in February 2015. The results? Children fare best developmentally when raised by a mom and a dad. Of course, this ideal is often not available in many homes for various reasons. However, one interesting point of this study was that even among homes where a single parent was the caregiver or stepparents were present, those families without both the biological mom and dad, still showed better results than the children of same-sex parents.

So if this whole issue is truly a fight for equality, what about the children who have no choice but to be involved? Don’t they deserve equal rights, too?

While there are no easy answers for this debate and so many tender feelings on all sides, let’s not sweep the children aside just because they are children. Because in this conquest for fairness, that isn’t fair at all. Don’t you think?

 

Who cares more: Government or Parents?

In adoption, Birth Rate, Child Development, Diane Robertson, Education, Families, father, Government, Health Care, Marriage, motherhood, Parental Rights, Parenting, Schools, The Family, Values on February 18, 2015 at 8:09 am

mom with sick childDiane Robertson

Parental rights come naturally from the conceiving, birthing and rearing of children. It’s not just a natural right, but a biological right. Children are tied to their parents through care and through genetics. Parents not only have the right to their children because they created them, but because better than anyone else, parents, and this includes adoptive parents, know their children.

Parents have an intimate knowledge of their children in a way that no other adult could possibly have. Some of that knowledge comes naturally through biology and genetics and much more from living with their children and associating closely with their children from the moment they are born.

Better than anyone, parents know:

  • Their children’s sleep habits
  • What they will and won’t eat
  • The typical contents of their diapers
  • How they pronounce or mispronounce their words
  • What makes them happy
  • What makes them sad
  • What makes them laugh
  • What makes the cry
  • If they are clumsy or coordinated
  • How they react to strangers
  • What they like to read
  • What they like to watch
  • How they act when they are tired, or angry, or hungry, or wet, or cold
  • What they think about the world
  • How they will react to different school assignments

The list could be infinite.

More than any other person in a child’s life, parents are at the cross roads. Parents are there when:

  • The child is born (duh)
  • Every or almost every medical procedure
  • When the child is ill
  • When the child starts school
  • When the child has a first date
  • When the child graduates
  • When the child gets married
  • When the child has their first child

Again, the list could be infinite… and not applicable to any other adult. In fact, no other adult on the planet cares about being there and knowing about anyone else’s child in even a one thousandth of the detail that the parents do.

For example, school teachers, who spend some significant time with children, actually know very little of these details of each of their students, and they will not be there at most if any of the cross roads of the child’s life. Think about this: unless the class is very vocal, it isn’t very likely that a teacher would be able to recall the favorite color or favorite food of each student. But the parents can without pause.

Scotland, however, has decided that parents are not good enough. They have passed a law in which each child in the nation will have a “named person” assigned to them from birth until 18 years of age.

This “named person” will be a health worker from birth until school age and a teacher there after. This means that not only does the “named person” have very little internal knowledge of the child they are named to, but the “named person” could change yearly. Oh and these “named persons” that will have some significant authority over the children will be over a lot more children than even the most fertile of couples in Scotland.

The government cannot do a better job at raising children than parents. God has already named two people to raise and care for children. They are called mother and father. Sure when that fails, it is nice to have an institution in place to care for children. But ask a child who loves them the most and you are guaranteed not to hear, “the government”.

 

Childproofing your marriage

In Birth Rate, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Polls, Research, The Family, Values on February 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

marriage happiness with newborn

What to do to keep that marital spark alive and well…

Erika Walker

Most people believe that after marriage, the next natural step in a couple’s life is parenthood, but after I got married, the thought of becoming a parent terrified me. Not because I didn’t want kids or because I didn’t think I’d be a good mom, but because I was afraid of what having children would do to my marriage. Based on what I had heard and read it seemed that the transition to parenthood was marked by an inevitable decline in marital satisfaction. This scared me because I had a strong loving relationship with my husband; one we had worked hard to build together; one that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice to become a mom. So before taking the plunge of parenthood, I set out to learn what I could about the transition to parenthood so that I could more effectively childproof my marriage against my future children.

Decline in Martial Satisfaction

My first question was: Is a decline in marital satisfaction inevitable in parenthood? What I discovered was that not all couples experience a decline in marital satisfaction with the birth of a child (Lauer). A study of 250 new parents during their first “postbaby year” found that:

  • 13% of the couples marital satisfaction declined severely
  • 38% experienced a moderate decline
  • 30% reported no change in their marital satisfaction
  • 19% experienced an improvement

Notice that based on these statistics, nearly 50% reported either no change or an improvement in their marital satisfaction, which goes to show that decline is not inevitable.

However, the results of this study didn’t satisfy me until I realized that a decline in marital satisfaction doesn’t mean dissatisfaction, it just means less satisfaction (Lauer). And whether we want to admit it or not, satisfaction tends to decline whether or not you have children. Think about it, when a couple first gets married they are typically at the peak of satisfaction in their marital relationship which is why it is referred to as the “Honeymoon Phase”. Therefore, if the relationship changes at all, it is likely to go down. Studies have shown that the sharpest decline in satisfying marital functioning typically occurs just after the birth of a child (Lauer). But the average decline in satisfaction is modest and does not go down to the point of dissatisfaction for most couples.

Factors that Contribute to Dissatisfaction

Next I wanted to know: What is the difference between the couples who experienced little to no change in their marital satisfaction and those whose satisfaction declined severely? And how do I make sure that my marriage is the former and not the latter?

One factor that I found contributed to dissatisfaction in parenthood was the quality of the relationship before pregnancy and parenthood. Some couples who experienced a decline in satisfaction were already having serious problems before the baby came and believed that having a child would fix their rocky relationship (Lauer). The truth, however, is quite the opposite. Because parenthood requires both parents working together, parenthood has the ability to make a good marriage better or worse, but it rarely makes a bad marriage better.

Another factor among those whose satisfaction dropped was gender differences (Kluwer). It seems that the ‘postbaby’ decline in marital satisfaction is greater among women than men. This discrepancy has been thought to be due to mothers’ perceptions of a lack of support both from the father and social network, creating feelings of stress and isolation for the mother (Ahlborg).

The final major factor was lack of leisure time together. As with any relationship, a lack in couple togetherness, impairs the intimate relationship and makes the individuals feel disconnected as a couple. This lack of time and energy also contributes to a loss of sensual and sexual affection (Ahlborg).

How Can I Minimize the Negative Effects of the Transition to Parenthood?

  1. Preparation- Maintaining marital satisfaction in parenthood begins during pregnancy. Use the time before baby comes to strengthen your marital relationship and learn key parenting skills. The more competent both parents feel about their parenting abilities and satisfied they are with their marriage during pregnancy, the more satisfied they will feel about their role as parents and their marital relationship postnantally (Wallace).
  2. Father Inclusion- It is typical the mother and baby to build a close bond even before birth. However this bond can sometimes make fathers feel left out of the picture. “Both marital and parental satisfaction are likely to be higher when the father is more involved with the baby” (Lauer). Thus, it is important to find ways to include the father both before and after the birth of the child.
  3. Coping Mechanisms in Parenthood- Maintain a sense of continuity by continuing to do some of the activities you and your spouse did together before the birth of the child (Miller).Take time away from the baby (Miller). Make a conscious effort to express appreciation for each other, express concerns, and listen to one another’s feelings (Miller). Rely on friends and family for help, emotional support, and advice (Miller).

 

References

Ahlborg, Tone, and Margareth Strandmarka. “Factors Influencing The Quality Of Intimate Relationships Six Months After Delivery” First-Time Parents’ Own Views And Coping Strategies.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 27.3 (2006): 163-172. Informa UK Ltd. Web. 7 July 2012.

Kluwer, Esther S.. “From Partnership to Parenthood: A Review of Marital Change Across the Transition to Parenthood.” Journal of Family Theory & Review 2.2 (2010): 105-125. Print.

Lauer, Robert H., and Jeanette C. Lauer. “Becoming a Parent.” Marriage & family: the quest for intimacy. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 257-281. Print.

Miller, Brent C. , and Donna L. Sollie. “Normal Stresses during the Transition to Parenthood.” Family Relations 29.4 (1980): 459-465. JSTOR. Web. 29 June 2012.

Wallace, Pamela M, and Ian H. Gotlib. “Marital Adjustment during the Transition to Parenthood: Stability and Predictors of Change .” Journal of Marriage and Family 52.1 (1990): 21-29.

 

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