Monday, May 30, 2011

When to say yes

Deila posted an insightful letter over at MMB regarding modesty.  In the letter, she stated, "Twenty years ago, I would tell my young daughter, "Barbie can wear this, but you can't--when you get married you can wear it in the bedroom."

Do you think in LDS culture we tend to forget the last part of that statement?  I thought saying things like this might help our girls be more comfortable with their bodies?


I just noticed this comment at the bottom of the page: 

I don't think modesty is just for the men. I have strong feelings about what immodesty does to women. It perpetuates the 'women as objects/sexual appeal as power' mentality. Men aren't the only ones who have a hard time looking past the surface appearance. There is a reason eating disorders, etc. are at an all-time high.

Modesty to me is about more than just class. It is about true power -- power that comes from self-respect and respect for others, from an ability to stay away from the dangerous myths about beauty and worth, from the ability to avoid the temptation to seek unrighteous dominion through sexual power, and from living according to truth about the body and sexuality as a gift and holy stewardship.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Women, Education, and Careers

I've recently read a few articles on women, education, and careers. The first article was "Giving Women a Voice Without Sacrificing Faith or Family: The Changes Needed to Create an Egalitarian Society" by Kaylie Clark. The second was What If “Plan A” Doesn’t Work? helping Female students navigate an uncertain life course by Casey Hurley. The Third was The College Rip-off by Rich Lowry.

Let me start with article #2.  Hurley began by comparing the life path of hypothetical LDS twin college students, male and female.  She suggested a more direct path for the male:  

Righteous LDS young men are given clear goals: get an education, serve a mission, get married, work to provide for your family. A young man can safely make a single generalized career plan: prepare to work full-time in a position that will support a family until retirement. Brother may change jobs from time to time, but the general plan will remain intact.
For the female she pointed out a less direct plan:
Sister is likely to perceive her duties as: get as much education as you can; go on a mission if you feel so inspired; get married if a worthy man asks; stay home with your children if you get married and are able to have children; provide for your family if your husband dies, is disabled, or leaves you; provide for yourself if you stay single or somehow lose your husband; help provide for your family if your husband gets laid off or your family encounters other difficult circumstances...and so on.

There are no certainties on the list.
After reading that, I honestly thought, "Oh that is so not fair when you look at it that way!  We women totally get the short end of the deal!"  But, it kind of is the way it is because we're trying to live what we believe is God's Plan for the family.  I have to remember that I had 27 years for myself before having children, the least I can do is dedicate a couple decades to child-rearing.  As I lamented to my husband, he was wise enough to remind me that many young men do sacrifice, too.  Some may give up dreams of becoming an artist to be an accountant so they can possibly better provide for a family.  Some may give up a permanent video game career in their parents' basement to become responsible adults.  So, I don't know if you can say women make all the sacrifices to follow a man, because some men give up dreams, too.

The balance of the article provides some great ideas in helping young women become aware of education/career choices, outside the familiar female education/career choices, that can work while caring for a family.  I thought the idea was brilliant and wished there would have been information like that available to me in the mid-1990s. 
For example, my experience as the faculty adviser of the pre-law society indicates few of our female students consider law as a possible field of study. . . .  Law can be a great career choice for women. . . . Law is one of a number of career paths that offers the kind of flexibility and options most of our female students are probably looking for. But have we shown them where to find these options?

I began to wonder, if I had to do it again, what would I do differently?  I have a teaching certificate, and am thankful for that, but I chose education because I believed it was the best choice in case my future husband were unemployed, underemployed, if we separated, or if he died.  I also liked the my education major because it wasn't heavy on the math and science, and since I was on scholarship, my chances of keeping it were better if I took easier classes (yes, I just admitted that!).  If I knew I was to never marry, I'm pretty sure I would not have chosen education, but I don't know what I would have done.  Law, no.  Computer Science, no.  International Studies, maybe.  Epidemiology, maybe.  If I had to do it again now, under my current circumstances, I'd probably fall immediately in to the professional secretary category, just because of past experience.  Philanthropy and history would be fun, but there's not much money in that.

So, I loved the concept presented and hope that young women are given more ideas on careers that are flexible, especially when motherhood, particularly single-motherhood, is involved.

The first article by Clark addressed the issue of how to make the workplace more friendly toward parents.  After thinking about myself in a position of having to go to work to support our family, I thought how crucial a more family-friendly work place is.

She suggested a few ideas, most I liked, a couple I didn't.
  • Breastfeeding/pumping rooms.
  • Affirmative action - can't say I'm a big fan.  I'm all for taking the best person for a position whether it be a male or a female (or whatever race, etc.).  If both candidates are equally qualified, and if you don't have many women at a company already, take the female so you can get that female perspective, if you want it.  If you just don't get qualified women for positions of influence, maybe it's time to create a specific women's issues position where the women's voice can be heard -- even if the woman doesn't have as many degrees, or as much experience as the men on the board.  (Sounds a little like the Relief Society:  The LDS Church is a predominantly male-led organization in the highest outward rankings, but there are some key positions where women serve, and they share the female perspective.)
  • Results-Only Work Environment (not based on hours worked, just results)
  • Proportional benefits and equal per hour pay to part-time workers
  • Paid maternity/parental leave - can't say I'm a big fan of this either, mainly because who's going to pay for it?  The company?  The government/taxpayers?  I do like sick-leave plans that can be used for other members of a person's family (i.e. husband stay home when wife has a baby).
Clark also suggested a paradigm shift in money, family values, and masculinity, which I appreciated:  "Two values specifically must be examined, the first being the value our society places on money and the value we place as a society on the centrality of the family."  Sometimes I wonder, though, if we've gone too far away from family values?  Can we re-claim that value?  Many people don't even want to get married anymore.  Additionally, regarding masculinity and homemaking she quoted "Elder Dallin H. Oaks said 'homemaking is not just baking bread or cleaning a house.  Homemaking is to make the environment necessary to nurture our children toward eternal life, which is our responsibility as parents.  And that homemaking is as much for fathers as it is for mothers.'"

The main point, though, of Clark's article was to help women not feel bad about pursuing their passions.  She admires women who's passion it is to be a mother (an example), but she wants to open the doors for women who have other dreams, too.  In order to do this, in addition to the above ideas, she leans toward making men's and women's roles more the same.  This is where I was a bit less favorable of the article.  This could possibly be because we come from different backgrounds.  She said her "entire life plan was to be a stay-at-home-mom" until she found a major she enjoyed; whereas,  I saw myself also as a stay-at-home-mom, well someday, but wasn't super excited about it; it sounded hard. I felt that staying home (if I could) was what I should be doing and would be best for my children (although, maybe that lack of excitement was because I wouldn't let myself get too excited about something that I'd soon have to give up?  I'll have to think about that some more.  Maybe Clark and I aren't so different after all!).  I feel now that my primary purpose is to raise my children (with my husband), and in the down-times I'll pursue my dreams; I just won't be able to do full-force.  To make it easier for the time being, I've tried to make mothering my passion.

I guess I just have a case of cognitive dissonance when I understand the doctrine of the family, yet also understand the need to fulfill one's passions, and see reasons to do so, and also see women who have made outstanding contributions to society outside of their homes. It just feels weird for me to say that there are times when able-bodied married women should not have children -- probably because that is not "my plan" (and isn't it a tendency to push one's own plan on others?)  For me, right now, the default for child bearing is on (yet I'm not the type to go for 12 children, and I think Heavenly Father understands why and is okay with that).  This all is why we have personal revelation and why we cannot judge others.

To back up the idea of women pursuing their aspirations, she shared:
“The Family: a Proclamation to the World” is the central doctrinal document on the family for the LDS church, and it states that “the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (The First Presidency, Para. 1). It states that “husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children” (The First Presidency, Para. 6).It is clear from this paragraph that an equally shared duty of both the man and the woman is the welfare and proper upbringing of their children.
...Elder M. Russell Ballard illustrated this compatibility when he said, ““Is a woman’s value dependent exclusively upon her role as a wife and mother?  The answer is simple and obvious: No . . . Every righteous man and woman has a significant role to play in the onward march of the kingdom of God” (Ballard, 2001). According to Elder Ballard, women have value outside of and work to do in addition to bearing children. President Gordon B. Hinckley himself said “The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it… women today are afforded the same opportunity to study for science, for the professions, and for every other facet of human knowledge. . . You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.”
I like the quotes, they're empowering. However, Clark skipped the part in "The Family" that states:  "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but to me that encourages, when possible, mothers primarily to nurture, and fathers to primarily protect and provide.  I don't know why we are encouraged to have these divided roles.  Perhaps it's because those who wrote the document are patriarchal and old fashioned.  Perhaps there is actually something inherent in the male makeup and the female makeup that makes one more suited for his or her designated role?  Could women actually be more suited for childcare?  Could it be that their brains really are more wired for multitasking, something that is required all the time while raising children?  We definitely know there is a physical connection between mothers, fetuses, lactation, and infancy.  There are just some nurturing things a father is physically unable to do.  Could men be encouraged to protect and provide because they are larger and because they possibly tend to think more compartmentally, which can help them stay better focused in their work?  I don't mean to sound belligerent, but we just don't know why we are encouraged to have these specific roles; perhaps someday we will completely find out.  I believe that if I do my best to fulfill my role, though, that my life will be happier and simpler than it might be otherwise.

Another part Clark left out of her article from "The Family" that she actually could use to back up her idea of equality was, "In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.  Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."  This statement tells me that it is okay adjust for "other circumstances" in addition to "disability" and "death."  It also clearly states (a part we tend to breeze over) that spouses are "obligated to help one another as equal partners."  This tells me that we help each other in our separate roles that we've been asked to fulfill; there is overlap.  We are a family team playing different positions.  

In regards to nurturing, Clark cites one study:  "men can nurture just as well as women, psychological studies testing the assumption that women are better nurturers yields ambiguous findings due to cultural influences, so the argument that women are naturally better equipped for the work in the home is weak with little scientific backing."  Maybe so, but there are other findings that at least make me ask more questions.

So I like Clark's general ideas of changing societal attitudes toward family, and I like the suggestions for modifying the work-place, but I felt there was quite the elimination of our God-given roles and duties.  When I was engaged and first married, I was all for equally sharing all the household duties (how degrading that I would have to do them when my husband was completely capable of helping out; I was not his slave), but as time went on, and especially once we had children, because my husband went away to work, it just made sense for me to do the traditional female jobs.  I've said for some time now that "if it goes against the family, the LDS Church will not support it."  Because Clark's ideas do support the family, I suppose they could work, but I wonder if the risk would be too much overlap and headbutting between husband and wife as they try and be too much the same?  Maybe it's not about reasoning, though.

At the end of Clark's article she shares what she would like to do with her passions:  "I can build schools for little girls and little boys, where I can help the underprivileged find their voice, where I can work with governments and businesses to bring these same opportunities to others. And I will do this with a man who shares my vision. . . ."  I liked that; I can relate to that.  I minored in International Development in college.  I had a crush on a guy who'd traveled the world helping people.  I fantasized about marrying him, founding some NGO, and traveling the globe.  I felt, and still believe, this is something that can be done with your own family at your side.  

Well, so much for that third article, I'm not making this post any longer.

No dad, no problem? No way!

Cheryl pointed me to Fatherless America? A third of children now live without dad; incredible stats.

Alarmed by growing evidence of the importance of fatherhood, President Barack Obama, who was raised by a single mother, has forcefully pleaded with fathers to step up throughout his presidency.
 "In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence — both in my life and in the lives of others," Obama wrote in a 2009 Father's Day piece in Parade Magazine. "I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference."
  ...While the divorce rate has dropped in recent years, it's not an indication that more families are staying together. Rather, Hawkins said, more people are choosing not to get married in the first place. 

For many years, marriage and children "were a packaged deal," he said, "and society was pretty good at enforcing that with strong cultural norms." Things started shifting during the sexual revolution of the '60s and '70s.

...The move away from marriage is a result of a bigger shift in American values that Hawkins calls a loss of "child centeredness." At one time, society expected adults to make decisions based largely on what was best for the children.

"Marriage isn't about kids anymore," he said. "It's about my satisfaction as an adult, my emotional well-being, my personal development."

A large percentage of today's young moms and dads are children of divorce and, therefore, wary of marriage. For many, Hawkins said, the logical solution is cohabitation. In 1960, there were only about 197,000 unmarried couples raising children together, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. In 2009, there were more than 2.5 million.

"Most of these couples are together when the baby comes and they have high hopes for staying that way," Hawkins said. "Unfortunately, only a small percentage are able to hold that together and solidify that relationship. It's even easier to leave your kid when you haven't got a legal commitment holding you there."

In a five-year study following 5,000 children, the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., found 80 percent of fathers provide support to mothers during pregnancy and more than 70 percent visit their children at the hospital. At the time of birth, a vast majority indicated they wanted to help raise their child.

Five years down the road, however, only 35 percent of unmarried couples had gotten married. About 40 percent of unmarried mothers had already broken up with their child's father and entered into at least one new partnership. Fourteen percent had a child with a new partner.

"Most fathers care about their children," said Victor Nelson, a marriage and family therapist from Logan. "They've given up on making things work with the mother, but most want to figure out some sort of solution for their kids."

But even if fathers keep in touch after a breakup, children suffer...

...A study by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services found only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families where the biological mother and father are married to each other. Thirty-three percent come from families where the parents have divorced. Forty-four percent have parents who were never married. The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University both found young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families — even when other factors like race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.

"Something about not having a father in the picture seems to make at least certain types of boys more likely to engage in aggressive violent behavior..."

Despite socioeconomic status, however, just having a father at home makes a child more likely to succeed at school, according to a study by the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes.

Children who grow up without a father in the home are also more likely to run away from home and commit suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eighty-five percent of children with behavioral disorders don't have a father at home.

...For girls, living in a father-absent home has physical consequences. Without a father, said Erin Holmes, an assistant professor in BYU's School of Family Life, girls tend to go through puberty sooner. A recent study by three U.S. universities found the earlier a father left, the greater risk a girl was at for getting pregnant as a teen.

Fatherlessness is also associated with eating disorders and depression, Holmes said.

...Being a father is more than just being male and showing up, said Holmes, who studies the effects of father involvement. Children who have poor relationships with their fathers or even those whose fathers are away from home working for extensive periods of time are at risk for some of the same problems as a child without a father...

"Sometimes fathers aren't in homes because they weren't doing good fathering," Holmes said. "We're not just saying, 'Let's get dads back in homes.' We're saying, 'Let's get dads doing good fathering.' "

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Julie Beck's Women's Conference Address

I know I'm weeks behind on jotting down my thoughts on Women's Conference, but what do you expect? :)  There were 3 points that I particularly wanted to remember from Julie Beck's talk.  (Let me clarify, I did not go to Women's Conference, and I've only listened to Sis. Beck's talk, so I really shouldn't say my thoughts on Women's Conference; I should say my thoughts on Julie Beck's talk from Women's Conference.  As the transcripts are not yet out, I took my quotes from Melissa Merrill's writeup from the Church News.  Also, my husband says by enlarging the text, it makes me look like a conspiracy theorist or that I'm yelling; sorry, not my intent.  I thought it just might make it easy to skim through!)

1.  On female identity and role:

The [female] identity we have from Heavenly Father can be fully understood only through spiritual confirmation,” she said. “An intellectual study can be made, but a spiritual confirmation teaches us who we are and what we are to do."

“They are given this powerful and influential leadership role,” she said. “The female responsibility of being a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend … is all about nurturing, teaching, and influencing. These are non-negotiable responsibilities. We can’t delegate them. We can accept them and live them. These are things we understood before we were born, and we can’t negotiate with the Lord whether they’re part of His plan. These are our responsibilities.”

2.  On working outside the home:

Sister Beck also said that women often ask her questions about whether to work outside the home. In many places, she pointed out, if women don’t work, they don’t eat. So that question may be the wrong one. A more appropriate question, she said, is this: “Am I aligned with the Lord’s vision of me and what He needs me to become?”  [My addition:] She also added something along the lines of -- or am I trying to escape my responsibilities to nurture, teach, and influence?

So, to me it seems like it's more about where our hearts are -- Am I fulfilling my duties to care for my family in my culture and in my economic situation?  The last thing (ok maybe not the last) the Church wants to do is create some terrible rift in women's minds about working to feed their families or to sacrifice everything to stay home and raise children.

3.  On the priesthood:

“The priesthood is God’s power,” she said. “It is His power to create, to bless, to lead, to serve as He does.” The priesthood duty of every righteous man is to qualify to hold the priesthood so he can bless his family, while the priesthood duty of sisters is to create life, nurture God’s children, and prepare them to make covenants with the Lord. 

Don’t confuse the power of the priesthood with the keys and offices of the priesthood,” Sister Beck said. “The power is limitless and is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what brothers have and sisters don’t. This is Satan’s way of confusing men and women so that neither understands what they really have.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling Divorce Rates

CNN reported in Divorce Rates Falling, Report Finds just what the title states.  I wondered before reading the article if it's because people typically live together first before marrying; therefore, if they do decide to marry later, they're more sure about it, and they end up sticking together.  That's basically what the article said, but I've also heard that people who do live together, have the "test the waters" mindset and tend to continue to "test the waters" with people other than their spouse after marriage.  Maybe things have changed though; who knows.

<sarcasm> I do know, however, that female and male bodies are meant to fit together; people have been proving this for thousands of years successfully (post-marriage). </sarcasm>

On a related note, LAF/Beautiful Womanhood just linked to an article today stating that Kids Can Do Abstinence, Data Shows.

Beauty Redefined Again

(This post disappeared when Blogger was down lat week, but here it is again!)

I know I posted about these gals already, but, if you feel so inclined to donate for their "Beauty Redefined" billboard campaign, there are still a few days left!

Also, they've distributed sticky notes all over the country that you can post places where real beauty ought to be exemplified.  If there's enough interest, they'll order and distribute more sticky notes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Influence of Mothers

Wow, The Influence of Mothers by Sheri Dew was a fantastic article run in the Deseret News.  In it, she highlights truths and myths of motherhood and women.

Truth #1:  Motherhood is a sacred trust from God.
Truth #2:  We tend to define motherhood as maternity, but the word "mother" has layers of meaning. 
Truth #3:  Mothers can do more than any others to cure the problems that exist in our society.  (I just have to share one story:)
While serving in the General Presidency of the Relief Society, the women's organization of the LDS Church, we hosted Mrs. Jehan Sedat, the widow of Egyptian president Anwar Sedat, at a luncheon not long after a mass shooting in a U.S. high school. During the luncheon, the conversation turned to this horrifying event, and one man opined that the problem was with the failure of law enforcement agencies. 
Mrs. Sedat immediately countered him: "No, the problem is with our homes. Too many mothers have abdicated responsibility for teaching their children what is right. What happens in society all begins with mothers." 
Truth #4:  Satan is real, and he has declared war on women.
Truth #5:  Mothers have more influence than they realize.

Myth #1:  Men are more important and have all the power, so if women want to have influence they should be more like men.
Myth #2:  A woman's value is based solely on size and shape.
Myth #3:  The only worthwhile validation comes from outside the home, and thus, motherhood is a waste of any talented woman's time.
I always love Sheri Dew's perspectives as she has never been married, nor has she borne any children of her own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Letter to a Son

There was this great piece in Newsweek by Dan Mulhern, husband to former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, written in the form of a letter to his 13-year-old son about modern manhood. One of my favorite parts of this essay was when he wrote:

"A strong man, Jack, is not threatened by others’ greatness. He’s comfortable with his own.
I have loved raising you and your college-age sisters. It’s been a gift. I stepped out of my male armor. I now cry when I’m sad, afraid, or just overwhelmed by the beauty of a sonata or a newborn baby. I don’t feel less of a man. I do feel more of a human being."

This reminds me of the great ideas Emily put up a while back from Elder and Sister Holland about how much stronger families can be when men are more involved. I know that in my family, my husband is absolutely essential to raising our children and I love that Mulhern suggests that the act of stepping out of his "male armor" (made possible by fully engaging in child-rearing?) made it possible for him to feel like more of a fulfilled human being.

Teaching Girls to Say "No" in Britain

Saw a link to this on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood:  Teaching Girls to Say "No."  I also liked the comment afterward: 
As well as educating our girls on how to say 'no', we ought be educating our boys 'not to ask'. In fact, I'd argue the educating should start with our boys first and foremost - then our girls won't find themselves having to make a decision either way, until the time is right and the son-of-a-gun is on bended knee, proffering a ring.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Homemaking Skills from a Mother

NotMolly posted this lovely post entitled Homemaking Skills My Mother Taught Me.  I think my favorite section is the one entitled "Prayer Works"; wonderful reminiscences.  Just an excerpt:

Exhibit 2: Early Teen-Me needed school clothing. It had been a rough year, employment-wise, and there really wasn’t much money for back-to-school wardrobes for the whole family. A few days before school was to start, Mom invited us to join her for a family prayer after breakfast, to pray that way and means would be opened to allow us to get everyone decently clothed for the school year, and that He’d provide everything that was needful. When my Dad came home from work that afternoon, he looked at the bags and bags of hand-me-down clothing sitting in our living room, and said, “Your mother has been praying again, hasn’t she?”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Finding Balance in Motherhood Post

I wrote this post for Empowering LDS Women.  It sure was a hard one, but I learned some good things by doing it.  I'd much more prefer to review books and articles than write my own thoughts!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Growing a Mother Heart

I wasn't specifically going to create a Mother's Day post, but after asking some friends about how to teach our daughters how to have better attitudes toward motherhood (read Heather's example here), I wanted to make a working list of everything I'd learned.  I think it will make for a nice Mother's Day post.  Here goes:

  • Be as positive as we can in our comments regarding marriage and child-raising.  Be realistic in that it is difficult, but don't be negative.
  • Create a happy, caring family that has physical contact.  Don't believe (or in my opinion, just don't even watch) media that sends the message that it's impossible to have a happy family, and that most families are dysfunctional.
  • This may be merely a United States-elitist culture one, but when possible, emphasize the duty of a husband to provide financially for the family (not always possible for this to happen, but we can hope for it and then do the best with what we get).
  • Don't focus so much on body image -- if we teach our girls to strive for perfect bodies, they'll not want to give up their hot little bods for baby weight and stretch marks.  Focus more on health and how amazing the body is (both female & male) and what a miracle pregnancy and birth is. 
  • Provide young women with positive experiences with children.  These days, most teen-aged girls do not have the opportunity to be around young children and develop a close bond with them.  I can invite young women to babysit and have (hopefully) positive experiences with my children that will help them have happy feelings toward children and motherhood.
  • Pay young women  more to babysit (or young men, if that's who watches kids at your house).  I bet many of my bad attitudes came from spending too much time on rotten babysitting assignments, and then not getting paid much for my work.  Of course, not everything is about money, but I wonder, when it takes a young man an hour to mow and trim a lawn, I might pay him $25; when a young woman babysits my children for an hour, I might pay her $6.  What does that say?  Because money is currently an indicator of value, that says I value the work of lawn mowing, more than I value the care of children (which is often more stressful work!).  I'm a cheap-skate, so this is a hard one for me -- well, maybe I should just pay the lawn-mower $6/hour.
  • Befriend young women.  Show interest in their lives.  They will come to know you and see you, as a mother, are still a wonderful, talented, fun, smart woman -- all your individuality didn't get thrown out when the babies came.
  • Give young women opportunities for real housekeeping, to know what it takes to run a household.  Housework is not very difficult, but it takes perseverance, which is the hard part. 
  • Give girls fun and amazing growing experiences in their lives, but make sure they know fun or amazing is not what life is all about. We have responsibilities, too.
  • Teach our daughters to receive personal revelation and be willing to give up the good and better things, for the best (recognize the things Heavenly Father wants for them).*
  • Teach them that marriage is not just about creating a cute family of two, but to grow that family.  Heavenly Father wants the human race to continue! (Teaching the Doctrine on the Family)
  • Teach young women that mothering is not the same for all women.  They can have their own preferences and methods in it.
  • Do household work together as a family and make it fun.
  • Journal about our mothering experiences and pass those onto our daughters.
  • Celebrate Mother's Day with ALL the women/girls in the family.  Whether or not they become physical mothers, they still can grow a mother heart.*
Happy Mother's Day!

If you have more ideas, leave them, so I can add them to my working list! :)

*Ideas from the Misfit Cygnet.

    The Touch of Human Kindness

    I recently read The Touch of Human Kindness:  Women and the Moral Center of Gravity by Bruce & Marie Hafen given at BYU Women's Conference, May 2001.

    There were a lot of good quotes in this article, but I'll jot down my favorites here.
    • Church members aren't immune from this confusion [regarding marriage, motherhood, and family life]. A Latter‐day Saint mother who was called to work with young single adults was expecting a new baby. One by one, several of her young women privately asked her how she really felt about having another child. In a spirit of deep womanly trust, they asked questions that reflected honest anxiety about being bound to husbands and assuming the burdens of motherhood. She told us she was surprised to hear concerns like this from young women who were believing, active Church members.
    • If being selfless means a woman must give up her own inner identity and personal growth, that understanding of selflessness is wrong. That was a weakness in some versions of the Victorian model of motherhood, which viewed women as excessively dependent on their husbands. But today's liberationist model goes too far the other way, stereotyping women as excessively independent of their families.
    • The critics who moved mothers from dependence to independence skipped the fertile middle ground of interdependence. Those who moved mothers from selflessness to selfishness skipped the fertile middle ground of self‐chosen sacrifice that contributes to a woman's personal growth. Because of these excesses, debates about the value of motherhood have, ironically, caused the general society to discount not only mothers but women in general.
    • "A woman's self‐worth depends not on how much other people seem to value her but rather on how well she is spiritually grounded. To depend on what others think of us lets them determine our sense of worth. When our happiness is based on someone else's choices, rather than our own, we become prime candidates for deadly hope. . . ."
    The Hafen's also stated, similar to Wendy Shalit's ideas:
    As scientist Leon Kass put it, "A fine woman understood that giving her body, even her kiss, meant giving her heart, which was too precious to be bestowed on anyone who would not prove worthy by pledging himself in marriage to be her defender and her lover forever." And so, "it is largely through the purity of her morals, self‐regulated," he said, "that woman wields her influence. Men will always do what is pleasing to women, but only if women suitably control and channel their own considerable sexual power."

    This view of female sexuality deplores abuse of women. It also celebrates the spiritual and emotional fulfillment of marriage for both women and men. Yet women have too long endured the unfairness of a cultural double standard that tolerated promiscuity in men while condemning it in women. A sociologist named David Popenoe writes, "Men the world over are more sexually driven and 'promiscuous,' while women are more concerned with lasting relationships." So, he says, women have been "expected to set limits on the extent of intimacy."

    A double standard that winks at this male laxness enough to excuse it is unequal and unfair. Society might have responded to this inequality by demanding fidelity of men. It is as if our culture had two hands, a female hand that was morally healthy, and a male hand that was morally withered. In the name of equality, we held up both hands and said, "Please make both my hands the same," and what happened? Both hands became withered. And so our generation has romped into history's most staggering sexual revolution, seeking male/female equality by encouraging women to imitate the habitual promiscuity of men.
    . . .
    And why is this a female predisposition [toward permanent pair bonding]? New evidence suggests that women have innate qualities that differ from men's, including a stronger desire for long‐term marriage. "Women, who can bear only a limited number of children" and who must nurture them through years of dependency, "have a great [inner] incentive to invest their energy in rearing [their] children, while men, who can father [many] offspring, do not."

    I found that last statement concerning women wanting to settle down because they have limited time to reproduce, and a man's lack of desire to settle down because he can father offspring his entire life rather interesting.  The concept seems true to me (for instance, if I had unlimited money, I would probably be more careless with it because it would never run out.  Since I have limited money, though, I am very particular with it and and try to spend it wisely); however, does the conclusion really matter when most people don't even view life in regards to how much time they have to reproduce (unless you've had fertility problems)?

    Well worth reading.  Gave me much to think about.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Motherhood Matters

    Get started on this challenge from

    If you don't want to click, here's the skeleton:

    1.  Join us in declaring "I Am a Mother" and share the message with five women in your life.
    2.  Recognize there are all kinds of mothers – those that work, those who stay-at-home, single mothers, and women who have never given birth. Be aware of how often you judge other women, and practice recognizing the
    worth of all kinds of mothers.
    3.  Practice answering the question "What do you do?" so you can confidently say "I am a mother."
    4.  Express thanks to your mother. Give her a call or write a letter, expressing gratitude for her love and influence. If she isn’t living, write her a letter in your journal. And if it’s not your own mother, maybe it’s another woman who mothered you.
    5.  Make a list of the skills and attributes that you bring to the role of a mother.
    6.  Call a friend and recognize her efforts as a mother.
    7.  Blog, Facebook, or Tweet what you love and enjoy about motherhood.
    8.  Tell your children or those you mother what you love about being a mother.
    9.  Ask a more experienced mother about the long-term rewards of motherhood. 
    I was particularly impressed with one of their objectives:
    We think motherhood matters to our personal well-being and happiness as women.  Talk show hosts and self-help gurus tells us just the opposite.  The recent cover of a popular woman’s magazine shouts that we are entitled to our ideal body, a better job, more energy, more love, and less stress.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, the pursuit drives us inward.  We end up investing our time and energy in girlfriend getaways, spa days, updating our Facebook profile, and other activities that have become benchmarks, or at least distractions, for a fulfilling life.  Popular culture promises that by recognizing and focusing on our own needs, we will find empowerment.  In reality it creates a culture of comparison, distraction and discontent, none of which lead to empowerment.  The act of mothering … caring for, teaching, and nurturing, has just the opposite effect.  It emboldens us with confidence, contentment and purpose.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    All Moms Go To Heaven

    I just read the quick, funny read, All Moms Go to Heaven by Dean Hughes (former Relief Society general presidency counselor Kathleen Hughes' husband) and a few quotes stuck out to me, especially since Mother's Day is this week:

    “God is our father. Christ is both a father to us and a brother. But isn’t it interesting that when Christ appeared to the Nephites in the new world , he used a female image to describe himself: “How oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you (3 Nephi 10:4).” It is also interesting that when we describe the traits of Christ, we use words like meek, humble, gentle, gracious, and loving. But most of these terms, in our society, we associate more with women than with men, and we sometimes, even today, see such qualities as evidence of male weakness. But women need strength and men need tenderness for the best child raising.”

    "All mothers aren’t headed for heaven. But what about yours? There’s not one doubt in my mind about my mother. And don’t almost all of us feel that way? I think the most honored name in the world is “mother,” and we usually compare ours, as Lincoln did, to an angel. The fact is, our moms are human, and they mess up, and their best isn’t perfect, but she’s still “Mom.” Anyone who has the title should cherish it."