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...


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.