Thursday, April 26, 2012

Does a SAHM benefit society?

I just read an interesting post at Wheat and Tares called We Don't Value Motherhood.  Parts of it seemed a little conspiracy-theorist to me, but it did have some good points.  One fault, I think, was the leaning on using monetary gain/economics to measure success.  One commenter (Bonnie) pointed out that "the PotF [Proclamation on the Family] ... replaces economics with family as the center of a healthy focus" reminding us that we don't need to measure success by money.

Bonnie also left a comment about how she works with under-privileged single-parent families and how a SAHM (in a 2-parent family) is a great benefit, even if not easily measured:

...The issues of contributing to society are wholly separate, IMO, from economic issues and I’m just so tired of everything having to boil down to a dollar value. I am a working mom, and I’ve had to leave my children in order to make sure we eat. It is much harder to be there for things that they need someone to be there for, and those things make for stable adults who have fewer health problems ... a better sense of their place in the world, better emotional health, better communication skills, and better problem resolution abilities. I spend a lot of time praying that the time I’m there is sufficient.

Before the working moms unload on me (I’m one of you, just in case that wasn’t obvious in what I already said), for crying out loud, OF COURSE I’m not saying that any lazy, TV-watching, kids-yelling, bon-bon-eating person with female organs is all that is required for children to arrive neatly-combed and diplomaed into adulthood. But we increase the stability of children when they have a strong parental influence all day (as is age-appropriate), especially in the earliest years.
 I KNOW we are all doing our best. I’m saying that in ideal situations, a nurturing influence (male or female) during the under-7 years who is able to address situations immediately with very impressionable children creates the best hope for self-calming adults. Lack of self-speech, or the ability to consider consequences and make short-term sacrifices, is the single most important component holding a family in the grip of generational poverty. Moms who are focused on this can do this. And moms who are supported by dads and a society to do this don’t lose their minds.
I know, hawkgrrrl, that you are not a fan of role division, but I am, not just because the church “says so” but because in cultures where there is a lot of poverty, when this nuclear unit can function with role division, poverty goes. ETB said that you don’t take people out of the slums, you take the slums out of people. That’s what we have to do. I think role-division can really help with this, and the benefits to society are no less crucial just because they’re less measurable.

Also in a comment, the author of the post mentioned how she doesn't mind role division (splitting up parenting duties), but does mind role prescription (being told what one must do/like, etc.).  I've heard that a lot on blogs, but honestly, I can't say I've ever felt that.  I'd vomit if anyone made me, or told me that I should scrapbook because I'm a girl.  No one's ever told me I shouldn't mountain bike or sheet rock or go to college because I'm a girl.  Have you felt pushed in to liking/doing certain things because of your sex?  Apparently it happens, but I missed that one I guess.

In regards to staying home and being a primary nurturer, there are some pretty strong factors that make it more logical for the woman to stay home:  how about breast feeding and the evidence that females are likely better nurturers than males?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family Funnies

My friend Polly blogs at Coming to Grips.  She writes funny stuff, and sometimes it is even family related.  I have a couple favorite posts I thought I'd share.

Go find out what a Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is, and see what her son said after his first bike crash.  She'll make you smile.

A Season for All Things

For some time I've been trying to remember which early feminist opted to focus on her family instead of the cause.  Yesterday, The Gift of Giving Life ran a little piece on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the birth of her daughter, and I remembered, that's who it was!

You may recall that Stanton worked with Susan B. Anthony for women's rights in the mid 1800s (I'm not sure if I should really call them feminists, but in my mind they are).  According to my Women's History class notes from 1998, Anthony recognized the limitations of marriage and didn't want that.  Stanton was, however, married and had 7 children!  Even though these ladies had very different personal lives, they made a great team with Stanton doing a lot of the writing and Anthony doing a lot of the organizing and speaking.

Apparently, though, Stanton was "unwilling to commit to a vigorous travel schedule until her children were grown."  I can't find it in my notes, but I seem to remember Anthony being a bit annoyed with this.  Personally, as a woman who chooses to stay home with her children, I find Stanton's willingness to put her children as a main priority quite refreshing.  It's nice to see that other women who could do great things sacrificed at least for a time.  So many of us get so anxious to get out of the home and do what we want; but it's all in its right time.  My kids are only young once, and now's my time to be with them.  (Honestly, though, this stay at home thing is starting to grow on me.  This domestic goddess stuff might start to come naturally one of these days!)

Have you ever struggled with your role as a woman?

Heather, from Women in the Scriptures, was featured today at The Mormon Women Project.  I just loved reading more about her.  She's great.  I know if both she and I have had some of the same struggles about being a woman and a mother, others may have too:

...When I was really young, I told my mom I wanted a cause. I remember thinking I should have been a suffragette. I was angry that in Young Women’s we’d spend our time doing cooking or quilting. (We did whitewater rafting and rock climbing, too, but somehow to my young mind that didn’t count!) I had read in history about women who did big, important things to change the world, and that’s who I wanted to be! History never tells you about the women who stay home and raise the babies. I thought you didn’t change the world by quilting....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Attitudes on Women and Family - A Cultural Thing

I remember when the internet got big and people talked about having on-line friends.  I thought, whatever, I will NEVER have those. That is so dumb.  Well, I eat my words.  I've met some super cool ladies through Facebook and blogging, and one's name is Tiffany.  She lives in Saudi Arabia and has 5 kids.

I used to be the type to gawk at people who had 5 kids and wonder, what were they thinking?  Well, Tiffany experienced that attitude from people like me when she lived in the states; however, since living in Saudi Arabia, she hasn't gotten it at all (at least from the locals).  Not only does she feel respected for having a family, and a larger one, but she also feels safer if she has at least one of her children with her when she's out!  She feels that people respect her for being a mother, and I suppose you could say don't persecute her for being a woman.  This is a country where in some places, like the one where Tiffany lives, women are required to wear black abayas to cover themselves when they go out.  The women also aren't even allowed to drive!

Anyway, Tiffany put up a nice post about an experience she had at the mall today.  She saw a mother from a distance with a pretty baby and motioned to the mother how pretty the baby was.  The mother and baby left after a while, but later came back, and the mother motioned for Tiffany to hold the baby.  Tiffany was pretty surprised as she just couldn't imagine anyone sharing their baby with a complete stranger in the U.S.!

Anyway, if you like reading about foreign experiences, pop on over to In a maze of beige.  You can learn a little bit about life for women and families in Saudi Arabia (and more).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Too Busy

LAF/Beautiful Womanhood linked to Enough of Parenting Misery Lit, a critique of another article about raising kids in North America.  I thought there were some great things in it:

...I am not sure what is meant by the “lack of an adult life”. You generally should not become a parent until you reach adulthood, and the years spent in active parenting do, by definition, mostly revolve around the kids. In order to raise children well (to be secure, healthy, confident, well-trained, ultimately decent and productive human beings) you need to put in some time and effort. With a little more effort, spouses can make time for each other. The key is balance, and for most families this is the challenging part.

As a parent, you have to make a lot of choices. One of them is how much time you will spend together as a family, and how much time you will be involved in various other activities. This should include, by the way, not just sport, culture and recreation, but also things like community volunteering, which teaches children that life is also about making it better for those less fortunate....

Many North American parents feel not just a desire, but an obligation to offer their children the widest possible range of leisure experiences and activities. The choices are myriad: music lessons (Pick one—or more—of a hundred different instruments and musical styles, then decide: solo, ensemble, band, orchestra, choir, or a combination thereof?); sports (Which to choose? How many at once? Highly competitive or just for fun?); dance, drama, clubs, hobbies. Multiply by the number of children. Calculate the extra hours you as a parent will spend chauffeuring, waiting, fund-raising, cheering, volunteering, assistant-coaching. Multiply by the number of children. By this point, there is no need to wonder why you don’t have any “adult life”.

How much is too much? Where does “life enrichment” end and pushy-parent, stage-mom or hockey-dad syndrome begin? Should a pre-schooler’s life be so tightly scheduled that he develops severe anxiety issues? As children grow, they develop their strengths and preferences for how they wish to spend their after-school hours. The hard part for parents is knowing when to encourage, when to accommodate, and when to (regrettably) say no—or at least, not right now. Ultimately, the decision belongs to the parent. If it doesn’t, are you still the parent, or have you been relegated to chauffeur, lunch-packer and grudging financier?...

 The alternative is to tell your children that, unfortunately, they cannot do it all. This is not deprivation: it is reality. No one can do it all or have it all, not even people who seem to have all the time and money in the world. It is all right to tell your children that they will have to give up some activities entirely, or wait until next year or possibly even adulthood to experience them. Many North Americans are not willing to do this. They want their kids to do it all, play it all, learn it all, experience it all. And then they wonder why their life seems like the Neverending Story of Hellish Exhaustion....

 Life is burdensome for many; when it’s burdensome as a result of our own choices, it is time to find a new balance. It’s basically a matter of priorities, which each family must decide for itself. Parents simply have to be aware that every choice has consequences. There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week, and only about eighteen years in a child’s life until they leave the nest. How many of those do you want to spend in the car—or the studio, field, track, gym or stadium, and how many do you want to spend strolling in the park?

(I added the emphasis.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The world in which we live

I don't know why I feel compelled to write about this on here; it seems more of a private matter.  I'm also not naive enough to think you are exempt from situations like this in your families, so this probably isn't news to anyone, but wanted to record my thoughts anyway.  I think this is just another example of why we need to be lionesses and protect our families.

I've heard mentioned several times the manual, A Parent's Guide, but have never read it before now.  It's the LDS Church's 1985 guide on how to talk to your kids about the body and sex.  Sure, some of it may seem a little out-dated, but there's a lot of good stuff in it.  We started reading it just in time.  When we finish reading  it, I'll probably share a few more thoughts.

Yesterday, my 6 year-old girl said something like, "Is it true that a boy and a girl who aren't married sleep in the same bed without their underwear?"  Gasp!  Deep breath.  "Where did you hear that?"  She'd been at a friend's house and a friend of that friend came over and was talking about it.

Sometimes, I don't know why, but I don't feel bold in calling a sin a sin -- I tend to say "bad choices," so it doesn't come across so judgmentally and meanly.  Luckily, though, we'd recently read this in the manual:

Your role as a parent requires that you pass judgments on your children and correct them as necessary. Some reports are not about accomplishments but about failures. Here you can be most Christlike. Without excusing or minimizing the problem or sin, you can react with concern, candor, and practical steps to correct the error or help your child repent of the sin.
Now the quote was clearly in reference to correcting a sin of a child, which obviously was not our situation, but the word "sin" was fresh on my mind.  Six year-olds also easily understand the word "sin."  I told my daughter something like, "Well if someone did something like that, it would be sinning."  Then we continued to have a little discussion on how our bodies are like temples and when we are married we can share our bodies that way, but if we do things like that when we are not married we cannot have the Spirit with us. . . .

Then, talk about a double whammy -- the kids had been outside tonight playing with some neighbors and my little 6 year old comes in and says, "So-and-so said, what if a girl was naked and someone took pictures of her and put them on iPhoto?"  I said, "Well that would be pornography.  Why was so-and-so talking about that?"  I then told her, yes, people do that, and it is wrong, and so-and-so shouldn't be talking about things like that.

I then asked my husband (I was nursing) to go tell the kid (another 6 year-old) that he shouldn't be talking about things like that, and it was time for him to go home.  I asked my husband if we ought to call the kid's mom.  My husband looked a little surprised at first, but really, he likes things like that.  So, he called the mom and told her what happened.  She was pretty upset and hopefully wasn't too hard on the kid (the manual talks about this).  It's not like they were looking at pornography, he was just talking about it, but I'd think she'd want to know.

When we had family prayer tonight, we again talked about the situation and told our kids that if other kids are talking about things like this to please let us know so that we can know what kids are talking about, tell them if it's true or not, and also answer any questions they have.  We told them it's okay to talk about these things with mom and dad (and we have had discussions in the past on the topic), but they don't need to go talking to their friends about this.  Our 8 year-old son seemed almost relieved to hear that it was okay to talk to mom and dad about when other kids talk about these things.  He seemed to like that he didn't have to keep it inside him and that he could let it out and that mom and dad could actually do something about it.

So, I guess I just write this to reenforce that it's never to early to talk to your kids about the body and sex in an age-appropriate way (the manual gives ideas on this, too).  I'm afraid, though, that the kids are getting more and more details at younger and younger ages these days.  I also want to say how grateful I am that we've been reading A Parent's Guide which has put the topic fresh on my mind and has given me some really good tactics in how to confidently talk about the body and sex with my kids.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I wasn't ready for Sister Beck to go!

I'm obviously a big fan of Julie Beck, the just released General Relief Society President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  So, when they announced her release at General Conference the other day, I felt a little cut short.  Has that much time really gone by?  I just wasn't ready.  My favorite thing about her is how upfront she is. She says it like it is, but I know she puts a lot of thought into it before she says it.

So, should I change the name of my blog?  No way.  We didn't give it this name to be trendy because Sister Beck said it.  Here's a little reiteration of how it came to be (as I quote myself, ha):
While up with her children one night, my friend Bridget came up with some suggestions.  One included Julie Beck's idea of a lioness at the gate guarding her family.  I loved it!  It's catchy, it's powerful, it's feminine.

The intent of the title is not to conjure up thoughts of "I am woman, hear me roar," but to remind us all that ". . .women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate. . . ."  If there are influences coming into our homes, though, that threaten us and our families, I certainly hope we'll roar back and do our best to get them out.
Sister Beck wasn't actually the first one to use the term "lioness."  I found that Margaret Nadauld had used it back in November, 2002:  "[A woman of faith] stays away from the evil influence and the unclean thing, and if it encroaches on her territory, she is as a lioness protecting her cubs. . . . "

I wish I'd been able to study all of Sister Beck's talks and articles, but I haven't; however, I here's a summary of what I have studied and what I have thought:

Julie Beck's May 2011 Women's Conference Address, posted May 2011

Julie Beck's Address from BYU Women's Conference, posted Nov. 2010

Teaching the Doctrine of the Family, posted Nov. 2010

Spiritual Education and Knowledge, posted Feb. 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom, Jan. 2011

A "Conversation" with Julie Beck on the Mormon Channel, posted Dec. 2010

A Tribute to the Titus 2 Ladies, posted Feb. 2011

Biblical Womanhood and the LDS Church, Part 2, posted April 2011

Mothers Who Know, posted March 2011

I am truly grateful for Sister Beck's boldness and bravery in doing what she was called to do.  Thank you, Sister Beck.  You truly had an impact on my life.

To read more about what people thought about the release of the General RS Presidency, see the post at Mormon Woman.

Easter Activity

I don't think I've ever posted a family activity on this blog -- more my contemplations (obviously), but my husband did something that the kids adored for family night tonight that some of you may like to try with your kids. 

Our lesson was, of course, on Easter.  My husband began by talking about Easter and the resurrection, where Christ was crucified, where His body was put when He died, etc.  Then my husband asked the kids about who came to the tomb and what happened -- Jesus wasn't there.

To demonstrate, after we reviewed the story, my husband pulled out a paper sack to represent the tomb and asked one of our daughters to put a Lego guy in it to represent Jesus (I hope that's not sacrilegious) and roll up the bag.


When it came time to open the bag (when Mary came), Jesus was not there!
You should have seen the look on the kids' faces!  Where did the Lego guy go?  They were pretty amazed. 

Well, it's pretty obvious to us, I'm sure, but just in case to make it clear, he previously cut a hole in the bottom of the bag and grabbed the Lego guy out as our daughter rolled up the bag.  He hid the Lego guy in his hand until it was time to be "resurrected."

You'd think someone would have taught this part of the Easter story like this, so maybe you've never thought of it either.

After this activity, we needed to fill some Easter eggs for an activity on Friday.  We asked the kids what Easter eggs have to do with the resurrection of Christ.  Our 8 year old son was quick to share an answer.  He said that the Easter egg is like the tomb, and when you open it up, the candy inside is like Jesus coming out of the tomb.  That's good, I'm glad he can put pagan with Christian.  We may as well think of it like that these days.

Then we asked, so what do Easter bunnies have to do with Easter?  Our 8 year old summarized a story he'd heard at the school library about some witch and some birds and the witch turned the birds into bunnies and that's why Easter bunnies lay eggs.  It was pretty funny.  He knew it wasn't real, but it was the best explanation as to why in the world Easter bunnies lay eggs.  I'll take the Cadbury type any day.

Then we had fun telling the kids that, really, the bunnies and eggs have more to do with Spring, which can very well remind us of Easter, but rather than focusing on them, we try and remember the resurrection of our Savior.