Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom: Chapter 3

I'm really going to make it through posting my notes/thoughts/questions regarding Daughters in My Kingdom one of these days.  This post shouldn't be long.  Chapter 3 - "Cleave unto the Covenants" Exodus, Migration, and Settlement was pretty straight forward.

In the chapter we learn that before 1846 the "formal organization of the Female Relief Society was discontinued. . . " (29).  That is sad, but the sisters still did work to help others, just not in such an organized fashion.  The book does not mention reasons the RS was discontinued, but as far as I understand, at least one reason was that Brigham Young was upset that Emma Smith was teaching against polygamy at RS meetings.  I apologize that I can't cite that reference, but I'm going to guess it was one of the podcasts on the Mormon Channel.  I'm just guessing there because I don't go seeking out anti-LDS literature, so I probably heard it from a pretty safe source -- but, I could be wrong.  It would be nice to know additional reasons for the discontinuation, and we could guess some reasons.  I'd have to figure that the Church was just trying to simplify at the time as they were leaving Nauvoo, and there just wasn't the strength and time to continue the organization.

It's amazing that "More than 5,000 Saints thronged the Nauvoo Temple after its dedication so they could receive the endowment and sealing ordinance. . ." (29).  Can't you imagine the excitement of receiving this newly revealed knowledge and protection before this long trek West?  It would give me so much strength.  I do wonder if the Saints were scared and if the temple would give me more courage BOTH temporally AND spiritually.

As the above quote mentions, people were sealed, and I'm reminded of V.H. Cassler's Polygamy article where she mentions that often women were sealed to Church General Authorities to assure their salvation, while husbands were sealed as children to the union created between the woman and the GA.  I wonder if that is some of what was happening in Nauvoo.  If you're unfamiliar with the LDS Church today, that's not the way we do it anymore.  A husband and wife are sealed (bound for eternity) to each other, and children born into that union are automatically sealed (tied for eternity) to their parents.

On page 31, we learn that "during the migration, the ratio of men to women and children was low."  "'Few men were left to raise grain and vegetables and protect he women and children. . . .'  The Saints were blessed by priethood power. . . .  They were also sustained by the sisters' faith in God, charity, strength, and prayers.  With illness rampant, the sisters served as doctors and nurses to their own families and to one another. . . ."  Although the book does not mention it, here could be a good time to remember the practice of "female ritual healing" (as written by Stapley & Wright) where the women actually did bless those in need -- not through an actual priesthood blessing, but more through a faith blessing.  Heather at Women in the Scriptures taught a lesson that touched on healing/blessings given by women, if you want to read it.  (1/15/12 update:  Also, D.H. Oaks addresses women giving blessings in the early days of the Church in a address from 1992 and reminds us that the church was not fully organized at that point in time:  there were no temples. Once the temples were built, these sacred ordinances/blessings would be performed there.)  I'd suppose it was quite a relief to the women to know that they were authorized to bless as needed, particularly if men weren't around to give a priesthood blessing.  It was probably a very empowering feeling.

I suppose a logical explanation for the practice of polygamy can relate here in a couple ways.  With this high ratio of females to males, polygamy allowed women to receive the sealing ordinance before coming west.  If the requirement were 1:1, so many women wouldn't have been able to receive the ordinance.  On a practical note, it seems that polygamy had the potential to bind adult women together as a team (sure some women were already sisters and probably felt like team, but some weren't).  On that arduous trek, wouldn't it be nice to be surrounded by family -- particularly other adults? 


The great Mormon Exodus and settlement in the Salt Lake Valley have always been a favorite topic of mine, so I enjoyed reading the chapter as well as the examples of faithful women in it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Moral Molecule: Oxytocin

My husband told me about a Ted Talk he listened to recently by Paul Zak on oxytocin.   Apparently oxytocin is the moral molecule -- it makes us connect with people, care about them, empathize with them, trust, be happy, be generous.  It is found only in mammals and is released in women during birth and breastfeeding, and in both men and women during sex.

Zak found, though, that men and women can easily increase their levels of oxytocin through massage, dance, prayer, weddings, social media, and hugs (he suggests 8 hugs/day to make the world a better place).

He also found that 5% of the population don't release oxytocin when stimulated.  One reason as to why people did not produce oxytocin was improper nurturing:  Half of abused women don't release it.  Stress also inhibits it.  Testosterone stunts it.  Men have 10 times more testosterone than women, and therefore, are more selfish; however, even though they are more selfish, they are also more likely to punish others for being selfish.

Zak concludes that the basis for our morality doesn't have to come from God, but from our chemical makeup.  (I say, if God is the Master Scientist, then isn't that an ingenious way to make our morality work?) 

The podcast didn't go into anything regarding fundamental differences between women and men, but I had fun contemplating the implications of the nurture/provide/protect roles of men and women as laid out in The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.  I couldn't find how much more oxytocin women have than men in general, but they do have/make more.  I would assume, then, that women are generally more moral and empathetic.  Is that why women often make better nurturers than men?  Because men have 10x more testosterone and are more selfish and want to punish others for being selfish, does that make them better protectors/better at watching out for their families?

Clearly both sexes can increase their levels of oxytocin, and there is overlap in male/female nurture/provide/protect roles, but chemically it appears there is a tendency for one sex to be a certain way over another, and that is fascinating.

---



This Ted Talk reminded me of another quote from the Scott article (Honor the Priesthood and Use It Well) from yesterday:
By divine design a woman is fundamentally different from a man in many ways. 2 She is compassionate and seeks the interests of others around her. However, that compassionate nature can become overwhelming for women who identify far more to accomplish than they can possibly do, even with the help of the Lord. Some become discouraged because they do not feel they are doing all they should do. . . .

In the book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, the authors suggest that when we women get to this overwhelming point, that we go to our husbands for counsel to figure out how to simplify. I suppose I have a bit of a pride problem here because I want to decide for myself what I can handle and what I can't.  However, I think there is real benefit in his outside perspective, and I should seek his advice more often.

Elder Scott suggests in these times of stress:
Therefore, as a husband or son, express gratitude for what your wife and mother do for you. Express your love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer, more pleasant and purposeful for many of the daughters of Father in Heaven who seldom hear a complimentary comment and are not thanked for the multitude of things they do. As a husband, when you sense that your wife needs lifting, hold her in your arms and tell her how much you love her.

---
8/27/12 update
I was reading a summary from the Women and the LDS Church conference over at the Juvenile Instructor blog.  I wanted to save this summary here where I won't forget it -- a sociological finding showing some basic differences between men and women, particularly regarding religion.


Session Two presented various analytical approaches to women’s agency in the contemporary church.  David Campbell presented some statistics taken from a recent survey of 500 “active” Mormon men and women.  For one, Campbell and his colleagues found no significant difference between men and women in their level of religiosity and devotion to the LDS Church, as well as a very small difference in both group’s support for an all-male priesthood.  And so, Campbell concluded, from a “sociological perspective, patriarchy works, because it keeps men tied to the religion.”  Some feminist bloggers have already jumped all over this as a kind of apologia for unquestioned patriarchy, but Campbell presented other findings indicating more complexity in Mormon women’s reactions to the their religious experiences.  These included women’s much greater preference for personal revelation over obedience to authority, and female emphasis on “helping others” as a mark of faithfulness over men’s emphasis on “sinlessness.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Equal Partners

I'd forgotten this fantastic quote by Richard G. Scott in Honor the Priesthood and Use It Well from October 2008:

The family proclamation states that a husband and wife should be equal partners. I feel assured that every wife in the Church would welcome that opportunity and support it. Whether it occurs or not depends upon the husband. Many husbands practice equal partnership with their companion to the benefit of both and the blessing of their children. However, many do not. I encourage any man who is reluctant to develop an equal partnership with his wife to obey the counsel inspired by the Lord and do it. Equal partnership yields its greatest benefit when both husband and wife seek the will of the Lord in making important decisions for themselves and for their family. . . .

The purpose of priesthood authority is to give, to serve, to lift, to inspire—not to exercise unrighteous control or force. In some cultures, tradition places a man in a role to dominate, control, and regulate all family affairs. That is not the way of the Lord. In some places the wife is almost owned by her husband, as if she were another of his personal possessions. That is a cruel, unproductive, mistaken vision of marriage encouraged by Lucifer that every priesthood holder must reject. It is founded on the false premise that a man is somehow superior to a woman. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The scriptures confirm that Father in Heaven saved His greatest, most splendid, supreme creation, woman, to the end. Only after all else was completed was woman created. Only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

Let's just say I'm grateful for modern-day revelation, and I'm grateful I live in a culture where male/female equality is acceptable.

The Help

The other night my husband I rented, yes rented from the local video store, The Help.  I've always loved Civil Rights and race movies (Remember the Titans, etc.).  I quite enjoyed how the The Help portrayed the domestic/women's side of things during the era. I've never looked at the situation in that light, so it was quite enlightening and refreshing.  Although parts of the film were kind of melodramatic, I loved how it portrayed the potential cattiness of women, yet showed we all struggle and want to fit in, too.  We just don't know what people are going through.

I could have done without the language, but just had to keep thinking back to my Ricks days when the Idaho farm boys used one of those words like it wasn't a cuss word!  Not that I should be justifying it.

So, if you haven't seen it and want a good women's perspective of an era, The Help a great movie; just plug your ears. ;)  The movie could only have been better had it actually been based on a real story.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom: Chapter 2

So it's been a while since I've written about Daughters in My Kingdom.  I'm sick with a cold and probably food poisoning, so it will give me something to do.  Chapter 2 is entitled, '"Something Better" The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.' How appropriate as I'm missing our ward RS dinner tonight I can reflect on the history of the RS.

I've always wondered what it meant to "organize the women . . . after the pattern of the priesthood" (12) (1/15/12 update - DH Oaks gave a great talk relating to this.).  It's still not totally clear to me, but one way was that the women who were asked to serve were set apart through a blessing, just as men are ordained to the priesthood -- not something that would happen in other women's groups of the day.  In the Church today, we still set apart people to positions of service.

Another term that always makes me want more info is when Emma Smith is called "an elect lady."  I think I've always been taught that it meant that she was righteous and predestined to fulfill the position.  Now that's not explained in the book, but I believe it's in one of the Mormon Channel podcasts on Emma that it explains that when Emma was called to the position, the group was asked to raise hands to support her, as in "elected" -- this type of "sustaining" action is still done today.  Maybe this podcast? on Emma or this one on the Organization of the RS.

Additionally, in regards to organizing the RS, I guess I have always felt the RS and Priesthood/Men were organized differently -- yet they're supposed to be so much the same.  I started thinking about how they could be organized differently and, therefore, feel more similar to me.  Other than actually "holding" the priesthood, I'd guess the biggest difference is that the boys when they're 12 and receive the Aaronic Priesthood start their associations with other men in the ward (priesthood opening exercises).  For the girls, this doesn't really happen until they are are 18 and actually become members of RS.  I think more and more now, though, young women (12+) are being included on occasion with the 18+ group, but maybe if the younger women were included when they also turned 12, like the boys, they'd feel more involved/important?  I do wonder why there isn't an opening exercises for all the females 12 and up just like there is for the males.  I'm sure there's a reason, I just don't know what it is.

On page 14, it mentions Emma's responsibility to compile hymns for the Church.  It doesn't mention, though, how much W.W. Phelps also had to do with it, which I didn't know until I listened to this podcast from the Mormon Channel.

One thing that confused me a little bit in looking at the wording from back then is where Joseph Smith turns "the key" to the Relief Society.  I'm guessing this means the "key" (14) to govern the RS?  From my understanding now, keys are tied to the priesthood, yet because the women don't hold the priesthood, I wouldn't think they really held the "key"?  Maybe it just means they were authorized to organize.

I was fascinated when I learned that not all women in the early days of the Church were included in the RS -- they had to "petition to belong, and they were accepted based on their goodness and virtue" (15).  I found this interesting because, if I remember correctly, too, not all men were priesthood holders either back then.  Now days, all women over 18 are included in the RS and all men/boys over 12, in good, active standing, receive an order/level of the priesthood.

I was surprised that there was no mention that to be a member of the RS, women had to pay dues (even up until the last century if I remember correctly).  To me, when I learned that detail at another point in my life, it made RS that much more significant.  I thought, if I had to PAY to belong to RS, how would that change my perspective of it?  Would I be more involved in it?  Would I take it more seriously?  Would I show up to my RS activities more often?  Would I try to bond with the other sisters more?   Because I don't pay dues, I think in the past I'd really taken RS for granted.  So, maybe in the book, the editors felt it was an insignificant fact, but to me, paying to belong to something is a big deal because it shows one's dedication to it.  The more we sacrifice for something, the more important it is to us.  (However, I can see the desire of Church leaders for inclusion of ALL women in the Church, so I can see some good benefits in opening membership up to all...)

I liked where Joseph Smith said, "You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms" (16).  Because of the organization of the RS, the women were able to act in an organized manner beyond their typical household roles.  If any of them had desires to serve outside the home, this was a great way they could be involved.  However, the book also mentions the women "never lost sight of their responsibilities toward their own families and homes" (18).  Well I'd sure hope not!  If they'd lost focus of that, they wouldn't have survived!

I also liked learning that at RS meetings, women were taught by Joseph Smith "to seek their own salvation. . . all must do it for themselves. . . none can do it for another" (17).  In one of the Joseph Smith Papers podcasts (sorry, can't remember which one), I learned that in that day, women of other faiths were taught that their salvation was tied to their husband's.  So if you had a lousy husband, I guess that meant you couldn't go to heaven.  How terrible.  This did bring up a question, though.  In V.H. Cassler's essay on polygamy, she points out that it was common for a woman to be sealed to a Church General Authority (and her husband to be sealed into that union as a child) to guarantee her salvation.  Obviously there was some confusion there because she didn't need to be sealed to a GA, she just needed to be sealed.  Now days we are obviously sealed in the temple to our husbands, and we, as individuals prove our own worthiness independent of the actions of our spouse.

I really liked, "Let this society teach how to act towards husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection.  When a man is borne down with trouble -- when he is perplexed, if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and sooth his feelings. . . . When you go home never give a cross word, but let kindness, charity and love, crown your works" (19)  Now I know some women will be offended by this and I admit I thought, now why do I have to be so nice? but the quote shows me that women back then weren't much different than we are today.  They needed to bite their tongues just as much as we do.  And, just to make it fair, men were taught to "love, cherish, and nourish his wife" and "regard her feelings with tenderness."  So, it wasn't only the women who were asked to be nice.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Reason for the Season



My friend, Michelle, shared this beautiful song/video by Shawna Edwards entitled, "Do You have Room." I hope you enjoy it.

I shouldn't even open this can of worms, but it's something I've been thinking about. I decided yesterday that Christmas, for me, is about two separate things. 1 - the message of Christ in this song, and 2 - Santa and presents and excitement. The older I get, the less I see them intertwined. I've always been one to try and focus on the Savior and mix in the Santa and pagan stuff, but really, when it comes down to Christmas day, who is it really about? Um, Santa and how much stuff I got.

If I were really die-hard about changing tradition, though, I'd probably get rid of the tree and the stockings and whatnot, but I like them. I like the presents. I like getting them. I like giving them. I like the parties. I sort of like the decorations -- just not putting them up. I like the generosity that comes out in people this time of the year. There's a lot of good that happens. There's a Family Home Evening Lesson that we even did last Monday about what decorations can symbolize, yet part of me feels that those definitions are kind of pushing it to make the pagan fit with the Christian (you also see this in a lot of the books and stories out there).  I have to admit, that if you aren't going to believe in Christ and celebrate his birth, the next best thing is probably exemplifying the goodness of St. Nick to those around you.  I guess I see it as a matter of good, better, best.  I'd say it's obviously nice to be a good person, it's better to be kind and giving toward people in the name of Santa Claus, but it's best to follow Jesus Christ and exemplify his attributes towards others.

I guess if I were to redefine Christmas, I suppose I'd keep the Santa stuff in December and move the religious part of it to Spring/Easter, rather than trying to mix it together.  But I think if I did that, the whole December Christmas stuff would kind of go the way of Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day and not a lot would happen -- I guess I'm not so big with traditions and holidays.  Or, I suppose I could do the Savior stuff on Christmas Eve and the Santa stuff Christmas Day, but that seems backwards to me -- shouldn't it be the Savior stuff ON Christmas?  Oh, how could you not do presents on Christmas?  Wouldn't that be kind of a let down? I guess you could justify it by the wise men brought presents to Christ and Christ is a gift to all of us. . .

Anyway, I do love Christmas.  I love the Savior and my testimony of Him.  I'm grateful for a restored Church of Jesus Christ on this earth. I'm grateful for all the other Christians and other people out there who try and make this world a better place.

Enjoy the season!

P.S.  12/6/11:  Here are a couple advent ideas that I've wanted to look more into.  1 - a 25-days Christmas book from Hands full and loving it and scriptures/ideas from LDS Women of God.  And one more from Mormon Women.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nobility in Service & Motherhood

Don't forget to read Chocolate on My Cranium's post:  Motherhood -- Service of the Highest Order -- and read the whole story of Sister Bean.  It will make you cry.

12/6/11:  Shortly after reading the above post, I was looking on my iPod for something to listen to and I found a Legacy Podcast on Willard and Rebecca Bean.  There are some really neat stories in there -- particularly the ones about Willard being a boxer and Rebecca living in Palmyra NY and facing opposition to her LDS faith and expecting a baby and no one would come and help her deliver the baby!  Neat people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Mind for a Mop

LAF/Beautiful Womanhood linked to "Does a full-time homemaker swap her mind for a mop?" by Dennis Prager.

My favorite parts:

To suggest that children benefit from having a full-time parent – which will usually be the mother – is, in the eyes of the dominant intellectual culture, equivalent to advocating suppression of women and "swapping their brains for a mop." . . .Being a full-time homemaker, mother and wife is the left's vision of hell.

Why that is so is not my subject here. Rather, I seek to refute the idea that full-time homemaking is intellectually vapid and a waste of a college education.

Let me first state that I have no argument with those mothers who need to or even just wish to work outside the home. My argument is with those who believe that staying at home is necessarily mind-numbing.

Nor do I wish to romanticize child rearing. As a rule, little children don't contribute much to the intellectual life of a parent (although older children who are intellectually curious can spur a parent to seek answers to challenging questions they may not have considered before). Any intellectually alive woman who is a full-time mother must therefore find intellectual stimulation elsewhere.

The point is that she can find such stimulation without leaving her house. Furthermore, the intellectual input she can find is likely to be greater than most women (or men) find working outside the home. . . . 



Let me give an example of the woman I know best: my wife. She is a non-practicing lawyer with a particular interest in and knowledge of taxation and the economy. She decided to stay home to be a full-time mother to her two boys (one of whom is autistic) and her two nieces (who lost their mother, my wife's sister, to cancer, when they were very young). Between talk radio, History Channel documentaries, BookTV on C-SPAN2, recorded lectures from The Teaching Company/The Great Courses, and constant reading, she has led a first-class intellectual life while shuttling kids, folding laundry and making family dinners.

So it is not only nonsense that full-time homemaking means swapping the mind for a mop. It is also nonsense that the vast majority of paid work outside the home develops the mind. One may prefer to work outside the home for many reasons: a need or desire for extra income; a need to get out of the house; a need to be admired for work beyond making a home; a need for regular interaction with other adults. But the development of the intellect is not necessarily among them.

This makes me kind of feel like some elitist since I do have and take the opportunity to stay home. Well, at least it makes me feel better that I CAN make staying home an intellectual persuit -- and I try -- I guess I just can't get enough of it, though.

Contrast this to caregiver burnout, which does happen when you're caring for everyone else all the time ("Tired mom? You might need more than a nap to combat that fatigue" by Teri Harman, Deseret News).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teaching Children Gratitude -- a late Thanksgiving post?

I'm really bad at planning to write specific posts like Thanksgiving posts or Christmas posts; I just have to let them come naturally, and sometimes they just don't come.  I have read two great posts recently on how to teach our children gratitude and not entitlement/consumerism -- goes along well with the Thanksgiving topic, don't you think?  I enjoyed this first post from the idea room by Heather Ann:

Good research has found that adults who are grateful report having fewer health problems (like digestion and headaches), more energy, and a greater feeling of well-being than those who complain. Most studies show that the more gratitude we show, the healthier and happier we are.
Can’t we assume findings would be the same for children? Children who express gratitude are kinder, more appreciative, more empathetic, happier and more enthusiastic. Grateful children understand that other people have needs and they look outside themselves. They are more polite, usually better behaved and generally more pleasant to be around.
Kids who are not taught gratitude struggle with feelings of entitlement and are usually disappointed, feeling that nothing is good enough for them. 
In trying to teach our children gratitude, parents have been making the same mistakes for years. Avoid pointing out to our children that they are more blessed than others. That doesn’t teach them to be grateful. When it comes to meals, don’t tell them “you should be grateful for your food, and eat it, kids in other countries are starving”. This won’t work either.

Her major points on how to teach children gratitude:
 
1.  We need to model gratitude ourselves.

2.  Say “No.”

3.  Give your children responsibility.

4.   Teach your children to be grateful for adversity.

5.   Role Play. Practice saying “please” and “thank you” with your children. 

6.   Teach your children to write Thank you Notes.

7.  Point out the simple things.


8.  Provide your family opportunities to serve.

Along these same lines, I also enjoyed Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life? at Empowering LDS Women by Kels.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keeping the Flame Alive

A bit back I read Middle Aged Mormon Man's suggestions on maintaining a strong marriage.  I didn't think I'd want to jot them down, but I keep thinking back to them.  I'd better put them here before I forget:

1) Pucker Up. Don't be shy about kissing, hugging and holding hands with your kids present. They act like they hate it -and maybe they do - but it reinforces that your desire to hug your spouse is more important than their discomfort. (Note:  Don't be ridiculous about this - they don't need to think their parents are pervs with no self-control)

A little time after reading this, my husband came home and said how grateful he was that he married me and what a wonderful wife I am.  It made me feel so good.  We had a good, passionate kiss.  I looked over to see my girls looking at us in smiley dismay.  Now, my husband and I nearly always greet or go with a kiss, but the girls really noticed this one!  It was so cute.  A week? or so later, my husband came home from work and we were all in a rush.  My 5 year old came to me and said, "Mom, you and dad forgot to kiss!"  It was just darling.  Even today, after we'd kissed when my husband got home, my daughter found another time when we were parting (for just a minute) that we should kiss.  I think she likes it.

2) Be Inseparable. Sit next to each other in church/movies/etc. I know, there is a natural tendency to sit as far away from each other as possible, with the kids corralled in-between. Resist this impulse. Sit by each other. Hold hands. In years of sitting on the stand, I have seen a strong correlation that the couples with the strongest marriages usually sit next to each other in church.

My parents always did this (still do).  I remember as a child trying to sit between my parents and my dad saying, "No, you cannot sit there. I want to sit by MY wife!"  Once we knew that was the rule, I don't think we ever tried to sit between them.  My husband and I aren't as diligent with this one, but we've been trying more.

3) Date Night!  Go on dates - weekly if you can. I am constantly amazed when I hear someone say "We haven't been on a date in three months" but the couple manages to attend every soccer/baseball game all season long. The marriage is more important that the kids hobbies.  Is it a money issue? Trade babysitting. Exploit the grandparents. Guilt a Beehive into doing it for service. Do cheap things. which leads us to..
We're working on this one.  But I do have to add, we DON'T make it to all sorts of kid activities, we just don't have kid activities, but we also just have a hard time getting on dates.  We've been better at getting/pre-arranging babysitters, though.

4) Temple Time.  Go to the temple together. Let your kids know. Sometimes spouses will trade-off -one will attend, the other will stay home, then they swap. Go together. After all, temple is really all about that very relationship, isn't it? And it is a cheap date.
OK, I appreciate this one, but with the little kids and the potential to pay $18 for a baby-sitter so we can go to the temple just doesn't sit right with me.  It's not like we even talk when we're there.  I'm sure when our oldest can babysit, we'll go together again, but I just have a hard time with it now.  Plus, I do enjoy the individual/personal things I can learn at the temple.  I always wished I could have gone through the temple some time prior to getting married, just so I could experience it as an individual, rather than as a spouse, but that didn't happen.  I guess now's my time to take it in for me.

5) Bedtime. Go to bed at the same time.  I know I'm talking to the blogging world, and some of you might not understand what I am saying, so I will type it again, more slowly:  Go to bed at the same time.  Why? As your kids get older, they start to notice stuff like that, and if dad goes to bed, and mom stays up to clean the kitchen, questions will rightfully arise in their minds. Likewise, if mom goes to bed, and dad stays up to surf the internet, you are just asking for trouble. Kids are aware of these things...

AMEN!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Between Parent and Child

If my friend Andrea reads this post, she'll drop her jaw! I borrowed her book, Between Parent and Child, by Haim G. Ginott, a really, really long time ago, and finished it today.  Her new looking book, definitely looks gently used from me carrying it around for the last many, many months.

Anyway, it wasn't my favorite parenting book, but I still got some good things out of it, so I thought I'd jot down a few notes.

The original book came out in 1965, but was updated in 2003, so it was kind of funny reading advice that was given back in the 60s.  For example, there were lots of examples of REALLY MEAN things parents might say to children.  I seriously couldn't even imagine saying things like that to a child!  I couldn't imagine my parents saying things like that to me, either -- and I came over a decade later from the first printing!  I'm sure people do say really mean things to kids, but I also like to hope that overall we've gotten nicer to children.

This book also seemed like the predecessor to Love and Logic, which is still currently my favorite parenting book.  Both books encourage a parent to empathize with a child -- maybe not agree with them, but to try and understand their feelings.  We've tried to do that with our kids, and I think it's a good thing.

I think one reason I had a hard time getting into the book was that the first part focuses on interpreting what your children say and then repeating it back to them.  I thought it was a good idea, so I started trying it.  I can't say it worked even once!  I kept trying to interpret what my kids were saying and they'd say, "No, that's not what I meant."  I finally gave up on that tactic and moved on in the book.

I really liked Appendix A at the end of the book regarding "How Children Can Be Helped."  The author outlines all sorts of problems kids might have, and identifies what is normal developmental behavior and what is over the top -- i.e. where kids may benefit from some therapy.  There's a section regarding "Fearful Children," and let's just say I may seriously consider help in this category for our 5 year old!  Our 8 year old has grown out of his fears, but there was about a 9 month period when he was 3/4 when he would not go to bed without one of us in the room with him, and if he woke up, it was game over.  He also developed a stuttering problem, which we got help for, but now I understand there was probably an underlying problem.  Luckily, so far, our 3rd child seems to be not so fearful as the first two.  Knock on wood.

Kind of along those lines, too, the book had some really good information on jealously between children.  I wonder if our kids' fear problems somewhat stemmed from a new sibling.  Each of our older kids developed some sort of problem about 6 months after having a new baby.  I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation.  The book suggested letting kids draw a picture of the sibling and cut it up or something, rather than hurt the baby.  My kids never indicated they didn't like the new baby, but maybe it was part of their problems.

There was an entire chapter on how to talk to your kids about sex, which I appreciated, but I was also bugged by the common attitude that we should just expect our kids to have sex -- and we shouldn't freak out when we find out they do.  Being a religious person, I still think we need to set the expectation to be chaste, but if our kids mess up, we shouldn't freak out (outwardly!!), but we need to be there to help them get things corrected. 

I also liked (p. 109) that the author said a shy child may be helped by having outgoing friends.  My 5 year old has a group of little friends and they are ALL shy!  I can't help but wonder if they just rub off on one another!  We've put her in a drama class with louder kids, and I do hope they'll influence her to be a little more outgoing.

I really liked, "Efficiency is the enemy of infancy" (p 169).  I am so guilty of pushing efficiency in my kids (more-so as a first-time parent, luckily I've learned a little).  There's a time and a place for efficiency, but kids need time to develop and grow at their own rate.

So I got some good things out of the book, but there were some things I'd just never try, but it was worth the read even if it took me so long.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't be an object.

Some friends posted this on facebook -- scientific reasons to be modest!



11/22 addition: Just want to add, too, that even though this is cool research, it's NOT all about what men think about women, though. There's the entire angle of respect for ourselves, too.

I was a little confused, though, then at how men equate sex with love -- if when men see a scantily clad woman, he objectifies her, so isn't that what happens in the bedroom? Are our husbands really objectifying us, but covering it up as love? My husband reminded me of another study where men were shown porn, their frontal lobes shut down as is indicated in the video, but when the men were told about the women (if they were in school, if they had families, what they liked to do, etc.), they stopped objectifying the women. So, I'd assume that because our husbands know us as people, not as bodies, they don't objectify us, but really do equate sex with love -- as we've all been told, but find so hard to understand. If I remember/find the study he's referring to, I'll link.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nature or Nurture

I quite enjoyed this latest post from NotMolly entitled, Nature or Nurture?  Particularly:


People have debated the merits of nature versus nurture in the development of traits and characteristics for quite a long time. In this situation, I’d argue that the whole negative ball of wax is a cumulative effect of nurture: how we train ourselves, and how we train those around us. . . . Small cutting remarks grow into a habit of cruelty in thought and deed. . . .

When a child is “treated” to a decade and a half of a parent stating, right in front of that tiny personage, how Mum or Daddy “can’t WAIT til the kids are back in school,” or “how great it was before kids” or “we’re turning his room into a sewing room the weekend he graduates, so he’d better have something planned!”, how on earth is that supposed to do anything but alienate the affection that ought to exist between parent and child? Would we, as reasonable adults, ever deign to waste our emotions on people who treated us this way?

When interaction with a child, time with a child, is routinely passed over in favor of “mature” pursuits, “me” time, and other semi-selfish desires, what message does that give to a formative character? What worth must they assume they have, if they are never “worth” our time and effort?

None of this is to say that a parent ought to devote every single breath of every single day catering a child; quite the opposite! Children need not be catered to at all: they deserve nurturing and mentoring, not catering. Catering connotes “serving up on a platter, satisfying every whim”, which leads to an aggrandizement of self versus the control of self and channeling of passions in productive ways. . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parental Involvement in Children's Education

I was able to read an article in my McKay Today Magazine called "Parent Involvement:  The Beginning Defines the Future" by Bryan Korth.  I was pleased to see the article and all the ways parents can be involved in their kids' education, both at home and at school.  The ways Korth mentions:

1.  Parents assisting teachers by preparing materials or filing paperwork.
2.  "Classroom parents" who organize classroom events.
3.  Parents who actually instruct in the classroom.
4.  Communication between parent and teacher.
5.  Being engaged in homework.
6.   Parental support to develop strong bonds with the child.
7.  Regulation:  appropriate expectations and structure regarding a child's behavior.
8.  Acknowledgment of the child's independent self, whereby parents avoid intruding, exploiting, or manipulating the child.

Like I said, I was pleased to see the article, but I was also kind of disappointed in the content.  For one thing, I was looking for some new ways to be more involved, but as I read, I pretty much feel like we're doing every single one of those things already.  I suppose the only way we could be more involved is to home-school our kids, and I'm just not going there.  I felt good when I realized I help with homework books for my kindergartner's class; and I felt good that although I'm not really participating in classroom events, I am participating in the PTA (but don't get me started on that one today.  I just added up my hours for the last 3 weeks and I'm looking at 20+; and I still have 2 events next week before I record my monthly hours!!!  I'm good for 5-15 hours/month, but this is getting ridiculous.  I oversee 12 events this year.).  I also felt good that next month I will begin instructing my 3rd grader's class on art for the next 3 months.  I'm no art expert, but no one had signed up for the assignment, and I used to be kind of good at art.

Another thing I was disappointed in was (oh how do I say this without being too offensive) the acknowledgement that most parents don't actually have the time to help out at the school, but if they're involved in other ways with their kids, then that's great.  Now that's fine, but I'm feeling a little burdened here putting in so many hours at/for the school.  I guess I just need some validation that these big school activities (book fair, carnival, reading activities, etc.) are actually worth helping out with, or I kind of just want to stop.  I'm feeling like the work to carry out the activities is in no way balanced with what my kids personally get out of them.  It seems like the activities are great and all, but there seem to be too few of us left/willing to be able to carry them out.  The reason I've done PTA/school activities is that more people want to be in the class with their kids, and fewer want to help the PTA/school, so I thought I'd help where the help was needed most.  Maybe I'm just being too nice by helping out the PTA/school and should be more selfish and get more into my kids' classes.

Anyway, it seems like there was one more thing, but I can't remember it now.  If you've had experience with PTA/school activities, what do you believe is their purpose?  Are the activities really valuable, or does classroom involvement outweigh the school functions?  Are we holding these big activities just to show how awesome we are, or could we do without them and focus more on the classroom?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Virtuous Women -- more than morally virtuous

Noble Womanhood shared a bit of the intro to Queen of the Home.

I used to think that the word “virtuous” as used in these texts meant “moral,” or “pure.” While the word “virtue” is at times translated this way, and while this meaning too should define a godly woman, this is not the meaning of the word . . . .  I was amazed to discover that in the original Hebrew this word is chayil—which is also translated throughout the Bible as “strength”, “ability”, “valiant”, “army”, “host”, “forces”, “riches”, “wealth”, “substance”, “power” and even “war”! No wonder such a woman is far more valuable than rubies.

The godly wife and mother is no household drudge, weak doormat, or mindless parasite. She is a mighty warrior queen who fights righteous battles at her husband’s side and reigns with him over the home and domain God has given them as they work together for Christ’s eternal Kingdom and glory.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nurture, Provide, Protect

I recently read something inferring that the counsel in The Family:  A Proclamation to the World was out-dated and highly influenced by a lot of old men who clung to old stereotypes.  I tend to believe it is Divinely inspired and teaches eternal truths about family, women, and men.  In support of our inherent male/female natures as reflected in the Proclamation, I recently read an interesting view from therapist, Maurice Harker.

Inside of every woman I have ever worked with these is a drive, a power, and insatiable urge to Celestialize everything. I call this blessing/curse, “Celestial Orientation”. Most of the masculine population has mocked it for years, but I fear that we will be punished for doing so. You hear this drive coming from women when you hear them say things like, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Or, “Why can’t week keep our home clean and beautiful like a temple?” In most cases, and unless otherwise “burned”, women tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. They tend to assume everyone is going to be kind and everyone is going to play fair, and it is often a surprise to them when this does not happen.

I will use a story that I often use in therapy to help a woman understand what is going on inside her [when things go wrong]. . . .

Pretend you . . . are a pioneer woman, and you are crossing the plains, all by yourself (other than your children) in a covered hand cart wagon. The journey is tough. . .but you are whistling a happy tune and making the best of it.

Out of no where, a half dozen Indian warriors on horse back come riding out of a near by valley and proceed to circle your little wagon. You have a little anxiety at first but then you do what any woman would do in the situation, and you greet them kindly in hopes of making new friends! How kind of the local tribe to send out a welcoming party! After greeting them with smiles, waves and pleasant chatter (Celestial interaction style), you are surprised to see them retaining their stone faced expressions.

The Indians sternly tell you, “Actually, we are here to rape you and take your children for our slaves.” Awkward!

So then you try a Terrestrial intervention. It occurs to you that these men have women and children at home and may have some unmet needs. “I have a little bit of extra flour and a few extra blankets we made in our quilting group back home. Perhaps I could give you those and you could take them back to your families and we could go on our merry way. Yes?”

The Indians look at each other, shake their heads and begin closing in. “Lady, we are here to rape you and take your children for our slaves.” Double awkward!

At this time, the female brain starts to go through something that is almost like a ripping sensation. 1000 miles per hour she tries to come up with alternatives. She remembers she has a shot gun in the wagon, but she also remembers these men probably have women and children back at home. She seeks for a way out, but eventually, the dark persistence of the men forces her to make a decision. She decides to use the gun on the Indians.

Ask the smoke clears, she finds 6 dead Indians on the ground and her children are safe. Then, she does what most women would do, she drops the gun, falls to the ground and bursts into tears; tears of guilt. And every day for many years to come, she is going to feel guilt, “Did I really have to kill those Indians? Maybe if I had listened to the Spirit more closely, I could have found a better way.”

We all know that a man in the same story would have skipped the first two interventions, killed the Indians, put six notches on the side of his wagon, and six scalps hanging from the back.

We learn in the Family Proclamation that women are designed to nurture. We learn that men are designed to provide and protect.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Mormon Woman's View on Womanhood

Steph over at Diapers and Divinity wrote a great post on feminism, rights, and roles (and other things).  I quite enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Considering Modesty

Cami Checketts posted this over at your LDS blog:

. . .As I learn and grow in my testimony of the gospel I also have become much more conscious about . . . dressing modestly, clothing my body in a manner that is appropriate for a Latter-Day Saint mother.

To be honest I didn’t always feel the same rules of modesty applied at the gym. When I exercise I work hard and all I used to care about was being comfortable. But then I started to notice that my fellow gym rats were watching me a bit too closely. I realized that I couldn’t use the excuse that I was a happily married Momma of four and nobody should be looking because they were looking
The scripture that came to my mind was the Savior teaching, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in her heart.” (i) I’m not saying that these men were lusting after me but I wasn’t being fair to them or myself by wearing a tank top that was a little too tight or shorts that were a little too short. If I’m not careful to cover my body appropriately no matter what activity I’m participating in, I’m using my body as a walking billboard that definitely isn’t furthering the Savior’s work. In fact, I’m blatantly advertising for the wrong team. . . .

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Have or Have Not Children

Elder Neil Anderson gave an inspiring talk on mothering/parenting yesterday.  He talked about how the the choice to have children is between a husband, a wife, and God.  He also stressed that to have children is a commandment.  I think we often forget that second part about it being a commandment, but it should probably be one of the first things we consider.  We need to do a better job as parents at teaching young people that children are a responsibility of marriage.  We need to teach them how to understand, accept, and prepare for that.

I've surely mentioned on this blog that my husband and I weren't too excited about having kids, but after waiting several years, we determined it was time to be obedient and give it a try.  It was actually 13 months of trying, then we miscarried at 11 weeks.  What a lesson that was, and it gave us a deeper appreciation for children.  After much thought and learning, now our attitude is to welcome children into our family, one at a time (well, unless there are two!).  We won't put a cap on it until we "Know" we're done -- whether by feelings or the evidence of my body and mental state being finished, or whatever other circumstances (perhaps health of other family members or even money).  Raising children is not easy, and it's often not fun, but it is a commandment.  I have faith that it will all be worth it someday.  The Eyre's had some good counsel on this topic (Having another child: Questions Couples Can Consider, Des. News, April 1, 2011).

I'm afraid that sometimes people get so overwhelmed by so many little children so fast that they give up on the thought that they could ever have any more, so they claim to be "done."  Why not wait until the kids are a little older to decide that?  When they are little, it is soooooo hard!  It doesn't seem to be the best time to be making such big decisions.

I also believe that people jump to the conclusion that they will only have x number of children.  I feel that making decisions like that is like trying to decide on a first date if you are going to marry the person you're out with.  You just have to take it one date at a time, just like you have to take it one child at a time and not make decisions you're not ready to make.

Anderson quoted part of this from desiringGod (thanks to some fb friends for finding the quote):

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.

If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

Men

My friend, Andrea, sent this to me.  You may have seen it on facebook floating around.

We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between a man who flatters her - and a man who compliments her. A man who spends money on her - and a man who invests in her. A man who views her as property - and a man who views her properly. A man who lusts after her - and a man who loves her. A man who believes he is God's gift to women - and a man who remembers a woman was God's gift to man...And then teach our boys to be that man.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom: Chapter 1

Relief Society:  A Restoration of an Ancient Pattern

I enjoyed this first chapter in Daughters in My Kingdom regarding the ancient church of Jesus Christ.  The chapter mentioned how Christ "demonstrated deep familiarity with women's lives and drew timeless gospel lessons from their every day experiences." It mentioned that little is known about the early "formal organization of women in the New Testament" and that women "met and prayed together with the Apostles" (p. 3).  The chapter mentioned Mary and Martha and several other stories of women in the NT (p. 4).

I think I came away with several questions after reading this chapter.  I read it under the assumption that women were probably second-class back then (but I'd like to know more), so I found it significant that Christ even acknowledged them.  I also assumed that even men were not so organized back then -- at least there's not much record of it in the NT (well I guess you can look at all the social groups:  pharisees, sadduces, etc., but I don't know how "formal" those groups were, and I guess they wouldn't be considered Christian organizations -- obviously I could study this); at least is seems the only official record of early Christan organization is that of the 12 Apostles. So, to me, it's significant that women were even acknowledged and some men were organized. 

I wonder more about why have women been put down in society so many times?  Are men just more power hungry?  Are they bigger and stronger, so they feel entitled to power?  How much are women mentioned in other writings from this era in history?  Are more women mentioned in the NT than in similar writings?

I've learned to love Paul's counsel to Titus to "encourage older women to serve and teach young women about their eternal roles as wives and mothers. . ." (p. 5).  I'm really coming to appreciate the advice of women who have done this child-raising stuff before.  There is NO reason for me to think I know it all; I can use the advice of older women to my advantage.  Why reinvent the wheel?

I really loved the example of Dorcas/Tabitha and how she made clothes for widows.  I've learned a bit about historical clothing and have learned that clothing was not cheap back then, and obviously labor intensive.  Was she wealthy?  Either way, the time to sew and the cost to purchase goods was surely substantial.  Sounds like she gave her all and the widows loved her (p. 6).

We've always been told that the Relief Society was organized after the pattern of the priesthood.  That's always been a slightly confusing statement to me because RS is not organized into little groups like deacons, teachers, priests, elders, high priests, or Aaronic/Melchizedek Priesthood and we don't seem to have quite the same responsibilities.  We're just organized into one big group of women, and some of us are pulled out of that big group to help in Young Women's or Primary.  However, I've come to interpret the statement as meaning Relief Society is (and was) organized through inspiration; those in leadership positions are set apart; they operate with counselors -- just as most all auxilaries in the church.

An even more clarifying statement was made by Julie Beck at the General RS Meeting last night.  She said something along the lines of the RS being organized after the pattern of discipleship.  I fully expected her to say "the priesthood," but she didn't.  This pattern of discipleship clarifies the role of women. The book states that we are dignified, noble, needed, valued, and serviceable (p. 7) -- qualities of disciples.  The Relief Society is a way for us women to be organized and to act officially in the name of the Church.  If we weren't so organized, I don't believe we'd be able to do as much good.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nurturing Dads... now this is interesting!

The Deseret News ran this: 

Testosterone drops when men become nurturing dads

Some news reports on the study hinted a drop in testosterone might not be a good thing. "This is probably not the news most fathers want to hear," wrote Pam Belluck in a www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/research/13testosterone.html New York Times story.

"It could almost be demonized," said Gettler to the New York Times. He noted that, instead, "this should be viewed as, 'Oh, it's great, women aren't the only ones biologically adapted to be parents.'"

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daughters In My Kingdom: Chapter 7

I'm done!  I'm done, I'm done!  I finished this wonderful little book!  I read the chapters that seemed most interesting to me first, leaving "'Pure Religion' Watchcare and Ministering through Visiting Teaching" for last, BUT this has actually been my most favorite chapter, so, I'm going to write about it first!

I loved the examples of Visiting Teaching and learned so much about the goals of Visiting Teaching.  After all the lessons, and lessons, and lessons on Visiting Teaching, I didn't think I could learn anymore.

I loved learning how VTing got started:  "RS leaders appointed a visiting committee of four sister for each ward.  [Their] most visible responsibilities were to assess needs and collect donations. . . .  Generally the sisters who were assigned to go visiting went with baskets in hand, receiving items such as matches, rice, baking soda, and bottles of fruit. . . " (106).  Now maybe I knew this and had forgotten, but could you imagine going Visiting Teaching and asking for money and goods!?  It's cool they they did this, but I'm glad I don't have to!  I also thought, 4 women?  That really is quite a burden to visit all the women in a ward with only 4!

I liked reading how Eliza R. Snow "counseled visiting teachers to prepare themselves spiritually before they visited homes so they would be able to ascertain and meet spiritual needs as well as temporal ones. . . ." (108). I don't know if Eliza R. Snow was a visiting teacher at the time of this instance from the life of my great-great grandmother after her husband died as recorded by her brother, but Eliza's actions demonstrate being guided by the Spirit:

One day Sister Eliza Snow with Sister Smoot took a walk together, when they came to my Sisters house in the 20th ward, she felt impressed to call in.  My mother was in the house at the time attending to Margaret, Sister Snow had never been in the house before, she did not know that Margaret was sick, she was led by the spirit of the Lord, she laid her hands on Margaret’s head and blessed her., that she would live and the Angels of God would preserve her.  Her enemies would not have any power over her and she would conquior her enemies.  Her words seemed to strenghten her faith and she began to amend from that time, and prospered.  She also blessed my mother. . .  (page 30 of Gibson Condie's Diary -- typescript.  A holograph can be found at the FHL in SLC, the years are 1864-65).
I also read in the chapter an example about a woman who "had been detailed by the Relief Society . . . to watch over and administer to the sick woman. . . ."  In modern day, we would interpret "administer" as just "minister" or "care for"; however, I wonder if in that instance, it was to actually bless, just as Eliza R. Snow blessed my great-great grandma.  (For more on the topic, see Stapley, Jonathan A. and Wright, Kristine, Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism (January 1, 2011). Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, pp. 1-85, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1754069).  Daughters in My Kingdom does not go into the topic of "female ritual healing," which I would like to know more about from an official Church standpoint, but this is at least a start in understanding the topic.

In 1916, VTers were "asked to discuss a gospel topic each month as well as providing a temporal service" (108).  I know we often leave VTing assignments with a "Let us know if there's anything we can do to help!" but what if we actually took that seriously as an ASSIGNMENT to provide a temporal service?  Wow.  If we did this, I think we'd better connect as sisters through temporal work, just was we should connect with our children/families through physical labor.  I think we'd also open up emotionally more than we do.


In 1944 (8 years after the start of the Church's Welfare plan), the assignment of RS sisters collecting funds was discontinued (108).  That did make a lot of sense because it was as though there were two Welfare plans:  RS Welfare and Church Welfare.  With the consolidation, things would be more efficient.    I don't know when collection of Fast Offerings came about, but, again, it seems like an unnecessary duplication of efforts from the brothers and the sisters.  Even today, the RS President still plays a BIG role in the Welfare plan, just as she did a long time ago.

I enjoyed the section on seeking spiritual guidance and was reminded to do better in that area (114).  I also liked the Questions Visiting Teachers Can Ask on page 115.  They are pretty personal, but if we go about first being a friend to those we visit teach, then those are natural questions from a friend to a friend.

1.  What worries or concerns do you have?
2.  What questions do you have about the gospel or Church?
3.  Would you allow us to help you with _____?  Note, it doesn't say, "Let us know if we can help! :) :)"

I liked Sister Smoot's advice:  "My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit . . . and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls" (117).

I loved Pres. Kimball's quote:  "You are going to save souls, and who can tell but that many of the fine active people in the Church today are active because you were in their homes. . ." (117).  I've witnessed this and know it to be true.  I'll have to have my friend write a post about it.

Reading about the great efforts of visiting teachers from the past encourages me to be a better visiting teacher.  I'm impressed at how temporal visiting teaching was, yet now the main focus seems to be spiritual.  I loved the stories in this chapter; they were so encouraging and made me cry.  Overall, I think the feel I got from this chapter is to be a friend with a Gospel message.  I think we do a pretty good job at showing up, but do we really connect?  Do we really show we care?  Do we show real charity?  That is what I need to focus on.  Wonderful chapter; so much great stuff in it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sexualization in Society

These two articles from the Deseret News were just too good to pass up.  Kudos to the Deseret News for publishing them.

The end of innocence: The cost of sexualizing kids


A few quotes from both articles:

"As a society, we know more about women who look good than we know about women who do good," (first article).

...
(The rest are from the 2nd article.)

While saying no is a natural parental instincts, he says the optimal approach is to help their child understand why a certain TV show or piece of clothing is not OK. "You'd be surprised at how reasonable children can be when rules are accompanied by an explanation," he says. "Children are always learning. If they're not learning from their mothers or fathers, they are going to learn from other sources."

...

Jenny Wykstra, a registered nurse from West Jordan, has figured out a way to help guide her three children without just saying something is bad or wrong.

She watches TV with her teens, 15, 14 and 13. And she pays attention to what they are looking at on the computer. When something sets off the alarm bells in her brain — and it happens a lot — she asks them questions.
"Wow, check out that girl's outfit. What do you think of it?"

She's genuinely interested, she says. But she's also guiding them through a process of analyzing things critically. "What do you think they're trying to sell?" she asks when a model runs her fingers through her luxurious hair for a shampoo commercial. "Is it just shampoo?"

...

Levin traces the introduction of the "sexualized childhood" to the mid-1980s deregulation of TV ads for children by the Federal Communications Commission, which allowed development of toys directly related to programming.

...

"What's going on here in 21st Century America is a war of values," wrote Annie Fox, a Cornell graduate who has written several books on teens. "On one side, parents doing their best to raise healthy young adults. And what are we up against? The marketing might of multi-billion dollar corporations. You probably don't need anyone to tell you who's winning."

...

"One girl told me [dressing provocatively] made her feel wanted," Evert says. "I told her, 'What are you hoping for — to be gawked at or to be loved? What do you want to be wanted for? If a guy really cares, he should want you for more than your body parts. I always tell the girls 'You will never convince boys of your dignity until you convince yourself.' "

...

On Aug. 31, 1,600 people used the Internet to protest a shirt being sold on JC Penney's website. The $10 shirt was emblazoned with "I'm Too Pretty to Do Homework, So My Brother Has to Do It for Me." The ad copy with it said, "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is."

Within four hours of the launch of an online petition drive by change.org, JC Penny yanked the shirt off its shelves, overwhelmed by the response.


 ...

And of course, there were several quotes/references to the Kite sisters from Beauty Redefined!  Go girls!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom: Foreword and Preface

I've been having a fun time reading the new Daughters in My Kingdom book.  Is that sick and wrong?  Fun?  When you really like history, yes, it is (usually) fun to read history.  I've also been torn because I'm writing a chapter on an ancestor for Women of Faith in the Latter-days, Volume 2.  I really need to be working on that, but I also really want to be reading this and blogging about it. And, I don't know how many people actually read this blog, but I'm 15 weeks pregnant, and of course, that makes everything just a little bit more complicated.

Anyway, enough about me, on with the book.  Kathryn at a Well-Behaved Mormon Woman posted her initial thoughts on the book, but I wanted to do more of a chapter-by-chapter review on the book.  Well, I don't know if  review is the right word, but I wanted to share my thoughts like Stephanie does about General Conference over at Diapers and Divinity.  If you feel so inclined to share your thoughts, please do, or even share a link to your own posts.  It's fun to discuss -- especially for those of us who don't get to go to RS -- not that this will necessarily be taught in RS, but it might on occasion.

As the blog post title indicates, I wanted to comment on the foreword and the preface.

I liked how the First Presidency message in the foreword mentioned that we women are "dedicated disciples."  How lovely is that?  Just like Mary and Martha and other women in the scriptures.

When I read that we "help strengthen families and build up the kingdom," I realized that women without their own families may have a hard time with this, but the strengthening doesn't have to be in one's own family.  We can help and support other people's families (the book goes on in a later chapter to address this in more detail).  Coming from someone who has a family of her own, I'm sure this can sound very insensitive to someone who does not have a family and wants one.  I can only imagine how hard that must be, but honestly, yes, we young moms with little kids would love any help anyone wants to give if you are willing to give it.

I also thought the "strengthen families" phrase really doesn't have to apply to just us in the LDS Church.  We can and need to help strengthen families all over the world.  There are so many good people throughout the globe also in support of the family, and we need to bind together.

OK, this could take a while.  I think I'd better not comment on everything.

I think it is good to remember that "this book is not a chronological history, nor is it an attempt to provide a comprehensive view of all that the Relief Society has accomplished" (xii).  As I have read, I find I do want to know more!!  The basics are there, but some of the more confusing/deep stuff is not.  A-ha!  Maybe that's why it's not there -- because it's not clear to anyone in the modern day, so they figured they'd leave it out or just touch on it briefly (such as "female ritual healing" and polygamy).

"We know that women who have deep appreciation for the past will be concerned about shaping a righteous future" (xii).  Amen.  Why I love history.

"...the women of the church have united with men who hold the priesthood to build God's kingdom..." (xii).  We are united -- definitely.  We have to be or the plan will fail.

"The value in this book is not so much in the dates and facts it provides but in the purposes, principles, and patterns it teaches" (xiii).  I believe this book is doing just that.  Why do we have Relief Society?  Of course it would still be nice to have a comprehensive history, but learning the purpose of the Relief Society is a starting point.

I like that the book is written by women (Susan Tanner - xiv) for women.  Some people complain that this isn't a lesson manual for both the men and women, but a lot that's in the book isn't necessarily what men (or women) NEED to know (for salvation), but things that are nice to know.  [9/12/11:  Actually I change my mind on that original statement.  This book IS a WONDERFUL summary of everything we need to know to be WONDERFUL people.  We can find all these principles all over the Gospel, but this book wraps them all up in one tight little package.  So, yes, you could use the book as a manual for men and women, you'd just have to expand on it with A LOT more detail.]  My husband has also enjoyed me sharing parts of this book with him before we go to bed at night -- I think some men will love to read it, whereas, some men will probably find it kind of boring, just as some women will.

I also like the extensive use of references in this book.  Some Church publications (at least older ones) lack sources and it drives me nuts.  I also like that Sister Tanner was given credit for this book.  I love knowing who did the work behind a project.

"Church members of all ages may use the book as a reference in lessons, talks, and council meetings" (xiv).  I've heard a couple times people say that quotes by women just aren't as credible as quotes from the "Brethren."  The first time someone said that, I was quite taken aback.  I didn't really believe them, but just to be safe, I stopped using quotes from sisters.  The quote above affirms to me that, yes, it is okay to use quotes from sisters.  Thank goodness.  I mentioned this to my mom and she wondered how the women wouldn't be taken as seriously as the men.  Yes, that's the type of family I grew up in.  If a quote is from General Conference, it's from General Conference, does it matter if a man or woman said it?  So yes, lots and lots of women quotes in this book.

Apparently Lucile Tate and Elaine Harris (xiv) wrote a history of the RS starting in 1996, but it was unpublished and kept as a resource in Church archives.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were someday published?  I'd love to read that!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Update on Entitlement

The Deseret News ran, The age of entitlement: Selfishness is rampant, but can be corrected, experts say, recently.


..."The gratitude is vanishing," Greer says.

This change in behavior is a symptom of a greater phenomenon that psychologists, family experts, sociologists and scholars say is gripping the world. Now, more than ever, entitlement — the idea that "I should get everything I want when I want it, even if I haven't worked for it" — is rearing its ugly head.

But the problem isn't just in preschool classrooms; it's in homes, high schools, offices and even the highest levels of government. It impacts the way children treat their parents and siblings, interferes with education and can contribute to a lifetime of unhappiness, financial instability and disdain for work, experts say....
---

Talk about entitlement:  Stand Up and Say Something.   The article's mainly not about entitlement, but about respect, but the examples just show how entitled our kids feel.

Canadian Study on the Influence of Fathers

My BIL (yes, brother-in-law, don't hear that too often), shared this report on fathers with me.

"Fathers make important contributions in the development of their children's behaviour and intelligence," says Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).

"Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older -- even among socio-economically at-risk families. . . ."

The findings, however, should encourage governments to formulate policies that encourage increased and positive forms of contact between children and their fathers. "Initiatives such as parental leave for men and parenting classes that emphasize the role of fathers could help to maximize children's development from early childhood to preadolescence," says Serbin.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Long Is Your Marriage Going to Last?

From A New--Surprising--Relationship Predictor on Shine:

. . .marriages are more likely to last when the man and woman enter into it thinking the marriage is forever. . . . "People who believed [that the marriage was forever] seemed to have the happiest marriages, perhaps because they were more willing to work though their problems in a lifelong effort to fulfill their own expectations."
They also found that the amount you squabble with your spouse now, will probably be about the same in 20, or however many years!

The study was based on interviews with 2,000 married people over the course of 20 years!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Polygamy

After one day short of 2 months, I finished reading "Polygamy" by VH Cassler.  Yes, I'd fail college at this rate.  I've said before that I try and leave the polygamy topic alone, especially on this blog, but it is a fascinating subject as I have several polygamous ancestors and the topic has been in the news a lot lately with the Warren Jeffs trial.  If you've wondered about polygamy in the past as well as its potential in the future, this article is for you.  Although this is not official LDS doctrine, Cassler's interpretations of the scriptures and examples do make a lot of sense.

A commenter stated well (Kathryn):  "I'll have to wait for this to be taught as 'official' doctrine in some future General Conference.  Maybe it will be shouted from the roof tops in great rejoicing and relief by those who think it makes more sense and clarifies the apparent conflicts between various scriptures in which the Lord either condemns or commands multiplicity of wives.  It has always seemed inconsistant [sic] and difficult to understand or explain. . . ." 

The premise is that the basic marriage law is monogamy, but under certain circumstances, some people may be asked by God to have plural wives. She compares this diversion from monogamy to the great sacrifices of Abraham with Issac as well as Christ with his death.  She points out that in the end, there was always a "ram in the thicket," or rather, an escape, a way out.  She suggests that just as there was an end to Christ's suffering as well as an end to Abraham's fear in sacrificing his son, there will also be an end/way out of polygamy (if one desires it).

I'll share a couple of my most favorite parts --  Cassler brings up a few points, perhaps rumors/traditions, that have been floating around in LDS culture regarding polygamy and suggests that they very well may just wrong -- we really can't prove them (so we should stop perpetuating them!)

Some in LDS culture assume that polygamy is not merely a doctrinal necessity but a circumstantial necessity in the hereafter.  Generally this assumption takes one of two forms.  In the first form of the assumption, some assert that there will be more women who inherit the celestial fullness than men, and since everyone in the highest level of the celestial kingdom is married, polygamy then must follow as a natural consequence of the sex ratio there. This “folkways” is unsound both doctrinally and demographically.  There is simply no basis for assuming a celestial sex ratio highly skewed in favor of women.

           First, how could God be no respecter of persons and create a system where one spirit, because of gender, has a much better chance of reaching the celestial kingdom than the other gender?  If God is the author of all fairness and if gender equality is a foundational principle of the gospel, he could not have authored such a system.  Even if this system were somehow fair, for such an outcome to ensue would mean that the male gender was disproportionately assigned to or an attribute of weaker spirits.  There is no doctrinal or scriptural basis for such a belief. 
            For those who feel polygamy is ubiquitous in the celestial kingdom, this belief demands that, at a minimum, twice as many women make it to the celestial kingdom as men.  But human demographics argues against such a conclusion.  Approximately 106 male babies are born on earth for every 100 female babies born. [20]  More males have existed on earth than females.  Yet by age five, the sex ratio is about 1:1, for male babies are more susceptible to genetic disorders.  Therefore, a large number of males die before the age of accountability and are automatically saved in the celestial kingdom.  Also, male deaths through such mechanisms as the wholesale killing of male children by an enemy power (e.g., in Moses’ time and in Jesus’ time), or males laying down their lives in righteous defense of family and homeland also increases the pool of males eligible for the celestial kingdom.  Using established demographic procedures, several  BYU sociologists declare in perhaps only a partially tongue-in-cheek essay that they can demonstrate there will be more males in the celestial kingdom than females! [21]


            All the foregoing serves to make the point that it is by no means clear that females will outnumber males in the celestial kingdom.  There is absolutely no scriptural or empirical basis upon which to assert the sex ratio of the celestial kingdom.  If we cannot confidently assume that there will be more exalted women than exalted men, then one cannot conclude that polygamy must then follow.
            The second form of the assumption that polygamy is a circumstantial necessity in the celestial kingdom is the notion that one Heavenly Mother is incapable of producing and nurturing the vast numbers of spirit children that Heavenly Father appears to have fathered.  After Christ comes, “time is no longer” (D&C 84:100; D&C 88:110).  With God, past, present, and future are continually before his eyes (D&C 130:7).  What this means, no one knows in this life.  But clearly it means that the same temporal constraints do not exist for Gods.  What, then, does it mean to say that something “would take too long” for a God?  Additionally, it does not appear that God is in some great hurry to do his work.  It may have taken billions of years to produce the universe and, eventually, our solar system.  Why does he need to rush the production of spirit children?  Furthermore, we do not know anything about how spirit children are organized or how long it takes to organize them.
            But how could one Heavenly Mother take care of so many children?  This question takes on its true character if we change it to ask: How could one Heavenly Father take care of so many children?  We believe Heavenly Father is capable of loving each one of us completely.  If a single he has such abilities, why do we doubt that a single She has the same? [22]  In addition, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother do not exist as a typically modern nuclear family unit--they have an entire and very large eternal family organization to help them.  Think of all that Christ, Their Son, accomplished in creating numberless worlds at a time when he did not yet possess a body and had not yet entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.  We must suppose that our divine parents have plenty of help in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Additionally, I really enjoyed learning about who was sealed to whom in the early days of the early LDS Church and how confusing it all got.  It seemed most important then just to be sealed, but it didn't quite matter to whom.

Thus it appears that choosing to enter sacred covenants of sealing and remaining worthy of those covenants is all that matters from the standpoint of the individual’s exaltation as a member of God’s eternal family--the actual people to whom one is sealed might or might not change in the re-forging of the great family link of all God’s exalted children.  Even if you are sealed to an unworthy person, it is as if that person is a stand-in for one who is worthy--whom you may not even meet in this life.  This explains why the Church does not cancel the sealing of a wife in a divorce situation unless another marriage sealing is to take place; because what matters is that the wife chose and presumably remains worthy to be sealed to a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder--even though she will most likely end up having that sealing transferred to someone else.  Her first husband remains, as it were, a “stand-in” until a transfer can take place. [26]             

Such stand-in, or “proxy,” marriages were common in the early Church, because in the first several decades of the restored Church, one could not be sealed to loved ones who had not been baptized into the Church before they died.  Surviving family members were sealed to General Authorities to assure their exaltation.  Widows whose husbands had died before hearing the Gospel were sealed to a general authority as the authority’s wife in order to assure their exaltation, and then typically had their husbands sealed to the same General Authority as a child so as “to keep him in the family”! [27] This resulted in many women becoming plural wives because of the mistaken understanding that they could not be sealed to their dead husbands and could not gain their exaltation unless sealed to someone as a wife.  For example, women who had never even met Joseph Smith while he was alive were sealed to him after his death; also, one woman had her aged mother sealed to her (the daughter’s) husband shortly before the mother died so that the mother could receive her exaltation.  Wilford Woodruff had over 400 of his dead female ancestors sealed to him as wives.  These practices seem to indicate that the parties involved understood that the man in question was more of a stand-in or proxy so that the woman could receive the marriage ordinance and thus her exaltation, than an understanding that these women were married in some meaningful sense to these particular men for all eternity.  For example, what can it mean to have a dead woman sealed to you, whom you have never met in this life, whose will on the matter you cannot possibly know, and who is in fact one of your great-great grandmothers?  Or to have your own mother-in-law sealed to you as a wife?  Or, in the case of a woman, to be sealed to a dead man whom you have never met, and whose will on the matter you cannot possibly know? These marriages make sense best as proxy marriages.  Indeed, when President Wilford Woodruff announced in 1894 that women could be sealed to their dead husbands (and children to their dead parents) even if the deceased had not been baptized before their deaths, many thousands of sealing transfers took place to rightfully reorganize family lines. [28]

I wonder if there was a differentiation between the word "sealing" and the word "marriage" in the past.  Today, we tend to group them together as though they are one, but if you separate the two, it sure would explain a lot of things.  Women could be sealed to a man, yet not really be "married" to him in the full sense of the word.

One question I had was regarding the very strong statements by people in Church history regarding the practice of polygamy, such as (taken from The Juvenile Instructor blog):

[Polygamy] was at the center of LDS theology, it was emphasized within Mormon practice, and it was exemplified by all ecclesiastical leaders. The fact that it was at the center of the Mormon ideal image transcends demographics. A few examples help provide a glimpse:

  • Plural wife Esther Romania Bunnell Penrose proclaimed polygamy as “the platform on which is built Endless Kingdoms and lives and no other or all combined principles revealed can be substituted as a compensation.”[6] 
  • Brigham Young’s counselor Daniel W. Wells, when under oath in the Reynolds Trial, explained that if Mormons “failed to obey it [polygamy] they would be under condemnation, and would be clipped in their glory in the world to come.”[7] 
  • Joseph F. Smith in 1878 protested against the “false idea” that monogomy was enough for the highest glory, and that “whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it.”[8] 
  • As late as 1884, Apostle Moses Thatcher declared polygamy was “the chief corner stone in the hands of [God].”[9] 
  • That same year, George Q. Cannon emphasized that he “did not feel like holding up his hand to sustain anyone as a presiding officer over any portion of the people who had not entered into the Patriarchal order of Marriage,” and that everyone who is capable “must have more than one wife at a time in order to obey that Law.”[10]

Regarding statements like these, Cassler states:
Last, nonscriptural statements by early Saints indicate that they believed polygamy to be the mode of married life in the celestial kingdom and that quantity of wives in the hereafter is a sign of a man’s degree of righteousness, which statements seem to support the “reward” interpretation. [30] However, we must remember that these statements were made in that period of time where some confusion existed about the sealing order of heaven.  It was thought that one could not be sealed to dead relatives who had passed away without being baptized.  Widows felt they had to be sealed to a general authority to assure their exaltation; remember that men thought they had to be sealed to General Authorities as their children, and that all must eventually be sealed directly or indirectly to the head of the dispensation (Joseph Smith) and that is where their sealing duties ended.  Thus, many early General Authorities had many wives and many children because of the confluence of these ideas about sealing and the God-given commandment to practice polygamy.   In a sense, then, the actual practice of polygamy in the early Church was profoundly affected by some confusion over the sealing order.  It is conceivable that this situation affected the understandings of these early Saints on the topic of husband-wife sealing in marriage, as well. [31]  We note that this confusion was cleared up by the same prophet in whose tenure God rescinded the exceptional commandment to practice polygamy: Wilford Woodruff.  Indeed, we believe it is no coincidence that this was the case.  In rescinding polygamy in 1890 in the context of the constrained views of the time about sealing, Wilford Woodruff, acting as the Lord’s mouthpiece, was seemingly placing exaltation out of the reach of many persons whose immediate family had not received the Gospel before death.  The sorrow of this situation could only have been rectified by removing the confusion over sealing.  Thus, resolving the confusion over sealing in 1894 was a necessary appendage to the rescindment of the commandment to practice polygamy in 1890.
I also always consider that those people were commanded to live polygamy, so if they were going against a commandment, wouldn't they be condemned?  Wouldn't you think they'd try and support it the best they could?


So, again, this isn't Church doctrine, but it gives me some good pondering.




(bold emphasis added)