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Parenting

My boys are visiting me for the summer.  I’m super excited, happy, and crazy busy!  I don’t get as much sleep; I sometimes skip meals; and sometimes I feel like I’m run ragged.  However, I wouldn’t change any of it.  Isn’t that part of being a parent?

I have done menu planning, washed laundry the day before church, and still, without fail, something has prevented us from making it to church.  The tub was leaking the first week, and we all had woken up super late.  The next week, I washed their only pair of jeans (that I was going to allow them to go in, because they do not wear slacks to their church), and one boy wore them to the canyon where he fell into the river and then was scaling the river in his clean pants.  Due to other people using the washer, I was unable to wash them the night before.  The next day, my daughter told me that she was sad we weren’t able to go to church.  That made me sad.  I knew I needed to try harder this coming week.

kid-386642_640Going from one child to three is a big change.  The two are obviously older, and they are being raised differently than I would raise them.  It’s just different.  I’m sure people who have gone through a divorce and have a similar visitation situation know what I mean.  That being said, I have to kind of roll with the punches, and keep a structured environment as much as possible.  Easier said than done, right?

My boys were blessed in my church when they were about eight weeks old.  They went to church with me; they went to church with my second husband and me.  They enjoyed it and even spoke of becoming missionaries  one day.  Well, it was approaching their eighth birthday and someone called our house phone and my mother picked up.  It was the primary president from the ward.  In our church, we do believe that a child can be accountable for their own sins or transgressions at age eight.  Thus at eight, our children are baptized by immersion and are given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Well, my boys went to live with my first husband, their dad, before their sixth birthday.  I also hadn’t spoken with them for two years.  When the primary president asked my mom if I would be having them baptized, my mom immediately began crying.  She told her that the boys live with their father in California and are not attending the LDS church anymore.  It broke our hearts to even talk about it.

When I received a text message from their stepmother that the boys had joined a different church, my heart sank.  My silver lining to this was that they would at least delve into understanding the love of Christ.  When I began seeing them after our visitation was established in the courts, I was not ready to take them to church.  But their father had expected me to.  Their visit was only two weeks.  I told him, next time.  Well, the next time, they fought me, and they fought me.  I even told them that their dad expected me to take them to church, and they still told me that they didn’t want to go.

I wasn’t quite sure of what to do.  I know I wasn’t as committed to attending church then, as I am now, but I still wasn’t quite sure.  So, I spoke to their father again, and confirmed that they were allowed to go to my church, and that it is expected that they go.  They did not bring church clothes, or church shoes, so I told them that they will be going in their jeans and their sneakers.  I mentioned that their baby sister and I could not miss seven weeks of church, so we will be attending.  Guess what?  They did not fight me one bit.

boy-746524_640I am not a mother of older children who have chosen to no longer be a member of our faith, or who just stopped going.  I do know that my own mother has struggled with the fact that her children have not been active at times.  My oldest brother had a difficult time when he was a teen.  But before he married his wife, he asked her to take the missionary lessons to become a member of the church.  We were so pleased to hear this.  My sister in law was baptized and though they don’t currently attend church, she sometimes thumbs through the Book of Mormon to find comfort and peace.  Another brother has had a job where he works on Sundays, but was reactivated by the missionaries, and has been finding a way to go to even a portion of church each Sunday.  I am so happy with his choice to do this!  My mother is ecstatic!

My youngest brother is struggling quite a bit with his own choices.  We pray for him on a continuing basis and we know that the Lord is watching over him, and protecting him the best He can.  My heart goes out to those parents who struggle with this situation.  I know I have told my mom, in the hopes of comforting her, that the right values and teachings were instilled in us as young children and teens, but that we chose to go another way.  We made those choices.  We all have to be accountable for what we do in our lifetime.

I pray for my boys to make the right choices, I pray that they will have softened hearts and open minds.  Perhaps maybe one day missionaries will approach them, and they will be ready to listen. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I cannot foresee the future.  But I can continue to pray for their guidance, and their protection.  I also pray for myself to be an example to them.  When they are with me, I do teach them about unconditional love and some of the basic principles that Jesus taught while on the earth.  I know I could do more, but as I have said before, baby steps.  Part of being that example is attending church regularly!  I know I will put forth much more of an effort in the following weeks that they are here.  I am more committed to it now.

Finding My Way Back- If you'd like to read more of Jen's articles, click here.
Finding My Way Back- If you’d like to read more of Jen’s articles, click here.

Our beloved President Monson told us in October 2014 Conference, “With the parable of the lost sheep, [Jesus] instructs us to go to the rescue of those who have left the path and have lost their way.”

Be one who reaches out to a lost sheep, and even if they are not ready, be there for them.  Be an example to them, and perhaps when they are ready, they will reach out to you.

Over dinner one night there was discussion about the vicissitudes of life with my Down syndrome son and his level of cooperation in our household comings and goings when my sister-in-law asked: “There hasn’t been that many times you’ve missed doing something you wanted to do though, has there?”  Our answers overlapped in the air as I heard my husband reply “Not really,” while I was saying “Thousands”.

Mets cropWe laughed!  Raising the same child in the same house has apparently yielded different experiences. When there is something that our Down syndrome son refuses to do, is too ill to do, or wouldn’t enjoy to the point of negatively impacting all participants, somebody has had to stay home.  And although we make the decision one event at a time, I am usually that one who stays behind.  So when she asked – I guess the number added up pretty quickly in my mind.

Divide and conquer . . .

To be clear, divide and conquer is a strategy that has worked for us, that’s why we could laugh about our separate answers.  In our circumstance walking away isn’t abandoning, it’s supporting.  It is so often the only way to get done what needs to be done.  If not for the divide strategy, we would never have conquered the building of a diverse and interesting life for our other children, so it fulfills my prime directive!

017The big things like camping trips I could list specifically but there are myriad other times that when looked at logically, made sense for him to go while I stayed. I suppose the one going out doesn’t notice the difference so much once the decision is made.  The verdict doesn’t always take long for example at a party or a meeting where my husband and I can communicate quickly and then split off in opposite directions, each one knowing who is on the job for Joe till the next crossing of paths . . . for us this divergence represents a togetherness of purpose, if not actual togetherness.

As he walks away I might be thinking “Thanks for letting the big kids have this good time”, or “Thanks for taking Joey out of my earshot for a while”.  “Thanks for giving me this minute to myself” is a sentiment often to be appreciated.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with him/them, but every mother of any child who can’t be left alone knows what a sustenance a little time can be.  So whether my husband is spending time with our other children, attending an event alone, or entertaining Joey alone, the time we are apart can be a gift to me.

How might a dad feel . . .

WAP Joey & Dad Zebra 2When Joey was first diagnosed with Down syndrome 6 months before he was born, I remember the genetic counselor saying that having a handicapped child can be especially hard on dads.  The reasons are complex:  dread of not knowing what to do, distress over being different, anxiety for the child’s self-worth, fear that the child will not become independent, do things that might embarrass, or be seen as less than other’s children.  She said these were all things to watch for and could have a destructive effect on the father’s ability to bond with the child.  My husband was away on business during this meeting but I took it to heart and paid attention when the time came.

From the first moment one could have shouted from the rooftops “Not to worry!” – my husband’s attachment to our handicapped son has been a blessing to me.  I can’t recall any specific events but I know that along with the countless times we have had to work separately in our days, there have also been thousands of times that I have been there to observe those two together.  Behind my eyes is the whisper of the counselor’s caution and even if my husband noticed he wouldn’t know that my tearful smile is in gratitude for how far away we are from what she said might be possible.  The love that my husband has for this son is not one bit different than he has for our other children.  In caring for Joey, he does now and has always demonstrated the personification of the expression “all the feeling of a tender parent” (Book of Mormon, 1 Ne. 8:37).  They have routines and a verbal shorthand that my son loves and which gives him a great part of his identity.  Building a treehouse in the yard, sharing the Little League baseball team Joey’s been on for 15 years, or working the same puzzles for the umpteenth time, they do have a lot of fun and are great pals.

What’s in dad’s mind . . .

Fall 2012 025Playing a “get-to-know-you” game with a church youth group, my husband once drew the question “If you could hear what someone else is thinking for a day, who would you choose and why?”  With all the people in human history as possibilities, he chose “Joey” as his answer.   I don’t think I am clever enough to have thought of it but of course it is the perfect answer.

Even though we live in the same house and have the same children, our experiences are unique. Even though we are working toward the same goals, much of the time we take different paths.  Though we’re not always in the same place at the same time, it is easy for me to say of him: “I know that you ‘know how to give good gifts unto your children’ (Luke 11:13).”  I celebrate that in him – it is one of the greatest gifts he could ever give to me too.

To read more articles by Jane, please click here.
To read more articles by Jane, please click here.

Divide . . . doesn’t seem like a way to bring a family together, but it has worked that way for us!

Negotiation is the key to getting what you want.

“She always gets the biggest piece!”  I can still hear my sister’s shrill, whiney voice from my childhood, complaining that there was, in fact, a bigger piece of pie, and it wasn’t hers.  Sometimes we all want a bigger piece of the pie.  Is it really wrong to want more?  I don’t think so.  I believe that although resources may be limited, together we can make the pie as big as we want.

girl-421458_640My children are, like so many of us, unsatisfied.  They want a bigger piece. “You are not fair,” one daughter informed me.  I know this is a common childhood perception.  I don’t even expect to purchase each child the exact same things.  For example, I don’t buy all five of my children new shoes because one child needs them. I don’t think that would be fair.  Still, I investigated it further.  What was causing this unhappiness?  “She always gets everything she wants from you,” she explained, pointing at another sister.  I thought about it.  It was often true.  Maybe I’m not fair, but it isn’t all my fault.

This daughter is very good at getting what she wants and needs.  How does she do it?  It was a wonderful question.  I thought, how can someone get “everything” they want from me?   I love to say yes and help people.  What makes it easier for some?  I think the invisible answer is hidden in the proactive way that she negotiates with me.

Since assertive negotiation can be so useful and so difficult to discover, I wrote down the secret recipe for “how to get everything you want from me”:

  1. Figure out what you need beforehand and ask me well in advance, at least a week in advance or more if it is big or important or has to be at a specific time.
  2. Ask for it very specifically and tell me why you need it.
  3. Assume I want to help, but also listen to my reaction with patience and empathy.  Knowing that I might be inconvenienced by this request and giving me time to consider it without taking my emotional reaction (if any) personally is so helpful.
  4. Don’t emotionally react yourself.  Instead, wait it out.
  5. If possible, listen for the reason why I can’t or don’t want to fulfill this request.  If I’m not immediately happy to help, find out why.
  6. Understand that I need things, too.
  7. If possible, propose a plan that meets both of our needs, or work out a win/win plan with me.  This, then, becomes our plan.
  8. Don’t just ask for things, be willing to give something, too.
  9. Be willing to change something or let go of some aspects of how to get it done if you want me to do it.  (If you want something done right, as in your way, do it yourself)
  10. Don’t be afraid to remind me especially if it is important to you.  I am very focused and very distractible, so it is very easy for me to accidentally let you down.  Please do not take this personally and understand that I may not be like you.
  11. Own what you need, always.  If I can’t help you or do what you want, or even if I let you down, if you own your own problems and persist in finding another way to get what you want, you and I will both appreciate it.  I want you to have what you need.
  12. Accept apologies and don’t hold grudges.  The past is gone and there is nothing I can do to fix it.  We can make a better plan for next time.  We can both figure out our part and say sorry.  But please don’t blame me if you don’t get everything you want the way you wanted it.

cora and katie 339When we figure out what we want or need and then use our own planning, efforts, teamwork, negotiation skills and perseverance to make our dreams come true in appropriate and healthy ways, it builds confidence.  Being assertive is self-affirming.

For even better results, we could use Professor Overstreet’s advice as quoted by Dale Carnegie in his book, How to Win Friends & Influence People,

“First arouse in the other person an eager want.  He who can do this has the whole world with him.  He who cannot walks a lonely way.”   

Like Huck Finn helped others feel blessed to pay him for the opportunity to whitewash the fence, surely we can help others want to help us out when we make it truly beneficial to them.

Dare to consider and ask for what you want and need

Dare to prepare

Find ways that might work for all,

and don’t be so quick to point fingers

if you fall.

We all eat our share of dirt.

Namaste,

DarEll S. Hoskisson

Every parent prays their child will have a wonderful influence in their life.
As children grow through their teen years, parents are challenged with difficult situations. Teenagers can be emotionally demanding at times, and parental rewards are few and far between.  One payback which warms the heart for parents is to hear their children tell them after they are grown what they had learned and appreciated from them.  I was reading in the Ensign, a magazine for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, in the March issue, which talks about the lessons learned from parents. This is a great payback for any parent, and all the hard work in successful parenting definitely pays off.
Mormon young women
There are many areas where parents have helped their youth learn to deal with life’s hardships. If diligent and loving, parents can make a difference in the life of their children. Here are some insights and lessons taken from grown children about their parents:
“I learned that I should never leave my church but always hang on to the gospel of Jesus Christ. My parents were always faithful in church attendance and service which made for a loving home. This example helped me to know that it is important to always attend church.”
“Keep your life balanced.  Not too much TV, not playing too many video games, no long stays at friends’ houses. No drinking or smoking. Keep healthy and your life should be in balance. At first I didn’t like all the rules but looking back, I realized how much better my life was with rules. I am thankful for them.”
“My mom always told me to look on the bright side of life. Tomorrow is always a better day and it can’t be all that bad.  I try to do the same.”
“My mom told me that I should always eat healthy and keep my weight under control.  I didn’t have to be a super sports player but if I exercised regularly, it helped me feel better about myself and she was right.”
“Even though I hated to hear it, I needed to remember that life isn’t fair. I remember my mother telling me this a lot. I would say, ‘that’s not fair’ and then she would say, ‘no one said life is fair, because it isn’t’. I had to learn to do the best I could with what happened to me.”
“My parents used to repeat, ‘Never give up, never surrender’ from the movie Galaxy Quest and it gave me strength to keep going. It became a joke after a while but those words stuck during challenges in my life.”
Mormon family with teens
“As a single Mom, my mother would pray all the time. That’s what gave her strength and that taught me to do the same. I should always pray when I need comfort and determination.”
“I was taught to always help others. My parents did that for others and the example they set for me shows in all of their children.  Always help others who are in trouble or cannot help themselves.”
“My parents always taught me to be a good worker.  If you were paid a wage then you should give that time to your employer. I always had good work references because of that work ethic I learned from my parents.”
Listening to adult children talk about what they learned from their parents strengthens parents who are teaching their children now. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know there is hope that someday their children will talk about how they were helped by the example of righteousness and keeping their eye on what is important.

Let’s not just talk about what we want to be. Let’s not just dream about what we want to be. Let’s just do it, whatever it takes. To reach your goals, you may have to work harder than you have ever worked before in your entire life.

Do you have “to dos” on your list forever, transferring them down the line for weeks or even months? I think we had ‘get our will notarized’ on my list for over a year before we finally got it done. Making insurance calls is another task that sits there waiting for me.

Who loves to call, wait on hold for an actual person for over an hour, get transferred three times and then your call drops or you are lucky enough to get a machine asking you to leave a message? I think I’d rather clean my oven.

mom working at computer with toddlers hanging on

What about finding time to do something you enjoy like go to the beach, watch the sunset, relax and read a book just because, or watch your child play? I find it at least as easy to leave out the enjoyable, quiet, and relaxing times as to avoid the dirty work. It seems so luxurious and indulgent to read while the work isn’t done. But, it is never done.

So, what is the solution? How can we make time to help others, get the nasty stuff done so it stops clogging up and haunting our lists, and also make time to care for ourselves and fully experience the depth and beauty of life, nature and our relationships?

 

pink cotton candyI watched my daughter at the elementary school fair. She was in line for some cotton candy. She was older than most of the kids and so was being kind and letting them go ahead of her in line. It quickly became clear to me that at this rate she very literally would never get any. It was a whole school worth of children lining up, a never-ending supply. I appreciated this lesson she taught me with her “kindness” because it taught me something about mine: Taking a turn does not hurt anyone. If she had stayed in line, all the others would have had their turn as well. Her missing out did not help anyone.

This also taught me something about my method of prioritizing. In my mind, previously, I always thought in a constant, nearly solid prioritization ranking. When any two choices came up, I would compare their relative priority in my life. For example, if I could do something for my child or something for my neighbor, and these options were in conflict,

I’d take care of the child. Or, I’d rank them based on necessity—needs before wants sort of like an ER room ranks and helps people in order of severity. My mom calls it “putting out fires.”

What is wrong with that? Is it obvious to you? I couldn’t see it.

woman with many phonesIn business efficiency classes, I’ve been taught several different ways to eliminate unimportant things from my life. Eliminating unimportant things makes time for the critically urgent or important things. But these classes just don’t apply to my life. They never have. Because for one example, they said, eliminate answering the phone. Let someone else get that message for you so you can concentrate, etc. Well, guess whose job it was to answer the phones? Yes, mine! My job as the office manager was to take care of those urgent things so other people could concentrate. That is how it is for me at home as well. Even if you can, successfully, delegate the non-urgent interruptions and prevent a lot more, I noticed something:

We all need time for not urgent, unimportant things, because even these things become important if they are totally neglected. I could give you so many examples! I need balance and that means that sometimes I need a phone call with a friend just to chat and connect. Sometimes I need to draw with my kids just for fun. Sometimes we need a vacation to explore and think and feel alive. These “not urgent, “unimportant” things also need a turn. If they stay stuck at the bottom of the list, it is certain death—like my daughter, there will be no cotton candy. Whatever is at the bottom of the list does only one thing, fall off.

I’ve decided I can not leave them out. Everything needs a turn. There will always be problems and surprises that rearrange our best intentions, but if every priority takes a turn on top, it won’t be procrastinated forever. Time won’t always run out for that particular thing, and it won’t continue to mock me at the bottom of the list.

It is so simple, but so powerful.

Like in volleyball, take turns in positioning.

Figure out your true priorities, all of them, and then — Rotate.

Namaste,

DarEll S. Hoskisson

Additional Resources:

Anti-procrastination Day

I had unwittingly jumped off a cliff. My husband and I adopted three children under three, a sibling group, and my life was forever changed. We took a step of faith into the dark and had no idea where we were going. Except we love children. I love to help people. I’m the oldest child of a very large family, and my husband is, too. We weren’t going in blind, but it sort of felt like it. It was a huge leap of faith.

woman typing on computerI call the time before that in my life BK (before kids). BK I knew who I was, where I was headed and frankly which side was up. I usually knew what day it was, had personal projects I liked to do and read and spent a lot of time with my husband. We spoiled our dog almost to insanity.

AK (after kids) I was drowning. But, I was deliriously happy. My husband and I were living a dream come true. I don’t want you to think for one minute that anything I did was wrong to me at the time. I enjoyed every minute of losing myself. I think much of what I did was necessary to meet the needs of my young, demanding children at the time. I quit my job to become a full-time mother. It was a complete lifestyle change–2 incomes, no kids, to 1 income, 3 kids.

Sacrifices had to be made, and we lovingly made them.

Mother in wheelchair at park with childrenI’m sharing this because maybe you, too, have lovingly overextended yourself. I know that many people in the “helping” professions like nursing, elderly care, teachers and those caring for young children regularly “burn out.” When we grieve, or experience major health, ability, relationship, or even location changes, we can feel lost. I didn’t even realize what was happening at the time, but I was burning out.

I feel strongly, now, that self-improvement begins with knowing and being aware of yourself. I had let my role consume me. I no longer ever thought about what I wanted or needed, instead, just doing what had to be done. I’ve always felt like the hero is the one who solves the problem. I had dropped all my other interests to focus on this one role and calling. It was glorious. I felt like a hero and I was so blessed, but there were side effects.

I spent half the morning trying to get my children dressed, fed, and their fabulously curly hair under control. They just couldn’t seem to get the routine. One day I was tired, frustrated and not dressed, fed, or having beautiful hair, either, when I saw myself in the mirror. I wondered, “How can they “get it” if I am not modeling it?”

So, that is my challenge for you today: to love [yourself] as your [neighbor] (see St. Matthew 19:19).   Even if you don’t feel lost and you are incredibly focused, maybe you took off with your 2015 goals sprinting through the gate, let’s take a moment to look at ourselves in the mirror.

The number one cause of physical fitness failure is burn out–”too much, too soon.” Is your pacing working out for you? Are you caring well for yourself, physically? I have to admit that this January I’ve had far too much exercise and not enough rest for my own good. Is how you are “improving” yourself a regimen you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy?

Or if, like I was, you are lost somewhere in the midst of swirling roles and responsibilities, having a hard time finding yourself, take heart. There so many things I’ve learned I’d love to share with you. Maybe something I’ve learned will help or give you an idea. In the mean time, I’m sending you what hope I can and suggest you take hold of your name. I’ll explain what I mean.

Self improvement DarEll
To read more of DarEll’s work, click the picture.

When I was a year or so into motherhood, I had lost my name. I was “my honey,” I was “mom”. I was a “teacher.” But no one called me by my name. My sister gave me a gift for my birthday. It was a hand-sewn, pink calico heart-shaped pillow with “DarEll” embroidered across the front. When I received it, I cried and cried. My sister must’ve thought I’d lost it. Her gift helped me realize how much I missed myself.

So, today, I’m wishing you a cosmic, heart shaped pillow, hand embroidered with your own, unique name. Remember who you are. Take care of your body. You are not gone. I promise.

One of our other bloggers, Nanette, had some additional good thoughts on all of this. Check them out.

Namaste (a yoga term meaning “the divine in me honors the divine in you”),

DarEll S. Hoskisson

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal not to people or things.

Janus was a Roman god with two faces, one looking to the past and other to the future. He symbolized change and transitions from one vision to another, and the passage of time. He also represented the growth from innocence to wisdom.

I am a big history buff, so you can imagine my surprise when my husband gave me what he termed, “the gift of Janus” this Christmas.

family at computer togetherFrom a tiny metal box plugged into our computer, I was able to view picture after picture of the start of our life together. We had lost all of these memories after our old computer died, taking its treasures to the grave. My husband had wisely saved the wasted corpse and had secretly asked a friend to “do whatever it takes” to save those files.

There was our past displayed on the screen before us, pre-crazy boys. I didn’t have bags under my eyes and my hair and clothes weren’t wrinkled. My husband wasn’t wrestling wild children. Instead, I was the one he had his eyes on. That was our innocence.

parents with little boyWhile those images skidded across the screen I yearned for that time as a newly married couple. Then I heard my boys say: “Where am I? Why am I not there? Am I in your tummy yet?” Looking across the heads of our three little boys at my husband, I was hit with wisdom. Our children had come between us, but they had made us a family.

Truly, it was a gift worthy of the Roman god Janus.

And it reminded me of a quote I had heard somewhere in time that says:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow…”
– Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory

Viewing the pictures of my yesterday with my today crawling all around me, I wondered about the tomorrow that was upon us–the new year. What did my husband and I hope for? Was there a way to restore that romance that I had just witnessed between us as newlyweds?

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”- Albert Einstein

The answer is yes, there is a way. Setting goals together is a way to restore the romance. It may not be the most obvious of romantic gestures, but it gives you and your husband a chance to get to know one another again.

young couple writing in journalSetting goals together will:
1. strengthen relationships by giving you the opportunity to work as a team towards a common ambition.
2. improve communication and understanding as you sit down together and discuss personal desires.
3. legitimize desires and hold you accountable to working towards common element.
4. allow you to support and cheer one another on.
5. contribute to overall satisfaction as goals are achieved.
6. provide you with a chance to celebrate the life you are building together.

Perhaps your relationship looks a little like mine, with kids always between you and your husband. Maybe you are like me and wonder how you can restore some of that newlywed romance back into your marriage. Is there even time to sit down and set goals together?

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we read:
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other…”

Sitting down together in a quiet kid-free setting is not only okay, it is a solemn responsibility.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World also states that:

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness and to teach them to love and serve one another….”

Taking time out to renew relationships with our spouse provides the perfect opportunity to teach children about love and service. You serve someone when you give them your time. You grow to love someone as you serve them. And you model service and love to your children when you treat your husband as someone worthy of your time.

When you set your goals together, remember that marriage is ordained of God. No relationship is complete without invoking the help of our Heavenly Father. Join together in prayer as you seek to set worthy goals, asking for God’s direction.

“… for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,” (Romans 8:26-27, King James Bible).

Don’t forget to give yourself the gift of Janus too. Go for a trip down memory lane together and remember just why you chose this guy again. Treasure how innocent you were yesterday, recognize the wisdom you’ve gained today, and have faith in the hope together you have planned for tomorrow.

social media

With Christmas around the corner parents are buying presents for their children to be placed under the tree. Choosing gifts can sometimes be agonizing as we try to choose the right kind of gift that will be memorable, yet useful and appropriate. Video games are one of those choices.

One of the most favorite past times of the younger generation is playing video games. Hours upon hours of time are spent pushing buttons or moving joy sticks. As a leisure time activity this allotment of time spent staring at a TV screen is relaxing to the participant, but is very distracting in the way of other enterprises. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a mother of nine children I’m not totally opposed to playing video games, but there are some precautions I would like to share in video game time for our youth.

  1. Time taken away from others. It’s easy to get sucked up into a video game and not realize how much time has gone by. Before you know the whole day has passed and the hours spent playing video games cannot be called back.

father-son-woodworking-1204161-galleryFrom a talk given by Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was published in the Ensign Magazine November 2000 (page 66) a poignant ideal is shared. “Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of numerous scholarly works, he said, ‘I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.’ Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. “Where did the years go?” they ask. We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.”

We are given so much time in the day. We can either spend it helping each other and accomplishing something good or waste it participating in what seems like leisure but in actuality is harmful in large doses. Your child is only under your roof for 18 years and flies by very quickly. An allotted amount of time should be set each week for children playing on video games.

  1. War games promote revenge: I was sitting in a Sunday School class a few weeks ago listening to a discussion about how we are taught by the lessons of Jesus Christ in forgiving others. One woman brought up the idea that children playing video war games learn revenge instead of forgiveness. A light bulb went on in my head and the more I thought of that idea, the more I realized how right she is. Not only are there many video games which become very addictive and entice children to play for hours at a time but these same war games children love to play so much teaches that it is better to blow the enemies away by gunning them down than by talking out their problems.

Is it better as Christian families to promote inflicting injury or carrying a bitter desire to hurt another of God’s children in the name of winning a game? I think not. Day after day of shooting the enemy can desensitize the ability to think clearly on the more important matters as in communicating with one another and forgiving each other for our faults. Video games don’t promote such ideals, especially video war games. Take a good look at what your children are playing and think about the messages these “games” profess.

  1. Playing video games promotes lack of physical activity: If a child is so interested in playing video games, then why would he/she inconvenience themselves to run around and play? This is a big distraction from physical activity and creative playing time. When the electricity goes out from storms in our area, it is amazing how children will congregate outside because they are “bored” with nothing to do. They usually busy themselves with simple games and talk. Not so with the distraction of video games. Unless someone tells them specifically “it’s time to turn it off,” they will keep on playing. Why are video games so addictive? According to media literacy specialist, Dr. Charles Ungerleider, “they are very compelling with increasing complexity, so the child becomes more facile, yet wants to know more and learns new skills. While wanting to improve their game isn’t a problem in itself, it becomes one if video games are taking a child away too much from other activities.”
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Our youth need parents to remind them of when to stop playing and switch to an alternative activity. It’s an inconvenience for both the parent and the children because the parents know their children should be playing outside or doing other things but children are so preoccupied by these games they don’t want to stop. I know this from experience.

Christmas is such a wonderful family time of the year. All children can play video games and have fun too when there are ground rules set by parents. Abuse of their playing time (more than two hours a day) can lead to distant relationships and less physical activity. When there is a cap on playing time, parents will see a difference in their child’s attitude and spend more quality time doing something fun and healthy.

grandparents

There are many aspects of life to consider through the eyes of a family.  We are the keepers of our homes and most of us would agree that we should guard that home against the ravages of the world. But what if those keepers of the home cannot guard those under their care?  It happens more often than we think.

grandfather and child runningThere are a rising number of grandparents who, for whatever reason, are now raising their own grandchildren.  According to the Census Bureau, there has been a 3 percent increase over the last ten years where grandparents have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the household of their grandchildren.  Some parents are present, but others are not and this trend has increased remarkably.

According to a demographer, Renee Ellis for the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, the role of grandparents are changing as “recent trends in increased life expectancy, single-parent families and female employment increase the potential for grandparents to play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren.”

See: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865613757/Parents-again-More-grandparents-are-helping-to-raise-grandchildren-census-shows.html

Grandparents are raising grandchildren and from my grandparent point of view this has to be challenging.  I can’t even imagine raising my own grandchildren after raising nine children of my own. From my childhood point of view, I can’t imagine being raised by my grandparents.  They were all European immigrants with a whole different mindset.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just different.  I would have been loved just the same.

These grandparents raising grandchildren have a two generation difference in time, and though many are dealing with health issues, adding on the stress of raising another generation of children might make their life more challenging.

 

Families knit together in love
Building Strong Families
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Grandparents who raise grandchildren need to be praised. They are doing double duty and it is stressful. There are many support groups around the country which help this older generation raise the younger generation but the financial difficulties and the day to day issues are challenging.

Regardless of age difference and challenges, these children are well loved. If the parents are not there to emotionally nurture their children then grandparents are the next best thing. Children are our future and deserved to be nurtured.

There is hope and help for those raising grandchildren. Besides attending support groups in your neighborhood, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have created a Mormon Channel two part series which explores how grandparents can raise their grandchildren in a gospel centered home.

http://www.mormonchannel.org/gospel-solutions-for-families/38-role-of-grandparents-part-1

mormon-parents

Back in 1990, we lived in El Cajon, California (near San Diego) and frequented the beaches quite often. Having five children at the time and not a lot of money in our budget, we brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Another family on the beach was barbecuing hamburgers, which smelled wonderful. The father of this family had a jovial presence, as we heard him laughing a lot throughout the day. When the time came to pack up and leave, my husband made a comment of how great their barbecue smelled compared to our measly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The man (seeing how many children we had) offered us his hamburgers. We were surprised at such an offer, because we were fire for barbecuecomplete strangers to him and he was sharing his lunch. We told him no, thank you, but thought how nice he was to offer. We exchanged a few pleasantries and found out he was a carpet layer studying to be a paralegal.

The very next day we turned on the evening news to see this same man’s picture on the screen as the reporter announced his heroic act in stopping a burglar. Without fear for his own life, this man, named Gary Smith, heard a woman scream next door to where he was laying carpet. Gary ran out to investigate and found a man robbing a woman in her own apartment. The robber took off running and Gary caught up with him. There was a struggle. The burglar finally pulled out a gun and shot Gary four times at point blank range. Gary was taken to the hospital where they operated on him five times to save his life. He lasted six days and then passed away. Over 1,000 people donated blood for him. He left three children behind fatherless.

mother-daughters-hair-920785-galleryIt seemed unbelievable to me that we were brought together with Gary Smith and his family just the day before. This man was a hero in the truest sense of the word. He not only unselfishly helped others he didn’t know, he gave his life to save another.

As a people, we need more heroes in our lives, great examples of men and women in mankind who unselfishly give of themselves without thought of what they might get in return. These heroes touch the lives of other human beings in a positive way.

Families knit together in love
Building Strong Families
To read more of Valerie’s articles, click the picture.

Families benefit greatly from such heroes. Think of those parents who unselfishly give of their time to nurture and teach their children to live lives of goodness. Think of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings all working together for the good of the family. They are all heroes in touching the life of another.

Parents, and other family members who do so much to take care of their children through difficult times not expecting anything in return but to raise their children to be good people touch lives for generations to come. Gary Smith, who gave his life in helping that woman, touched the lives of many all over San Diego on the news that night and reminded us how important it is to help another in trouble. Where there was despondency and despair, there is hope. Where there is hopelessness and grief, there is caring. Touching the life of another will always keep us faithful in our conviction of what is most important in life.

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