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Preserving Family Life: Back to Basics of Good Mothering

It seems discouraging at times.  Motherhood is bombarded by a shifting world of career minded females who would rather work than stay home. The media would want us to think that women feel it’s more important to leave their calling as mother behind than stand up for their children.  Believe it or not the world doesn’t look highly on the good marks of a mother.  Sometimes we hear testimony of sports heroes or political candidates speak highly of their mothers but over all mothers are tossed aside in the good news department.

In the world of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) mothers are highly regarded as an honorable profession. Motherhood is a great blessing. Mothers bring children into the world and we can mold and encourage good souls to live great lives and contribute back into the community.

From “The Radical Mormon Mother Part II by Tiffany Gee Lewis says, “Even in our culture we’ve strayed from understanding what a homemaker is supposed to do. We’ve outsourced our domestic skills, whole-foods cooking, a great portion of the teaching we should give our children and even our own ability to create.”

The world has journeyed away in the understanding of good mothering. Babies don’t come with a how-to manuals and most parents don’t take child development classes as college students. Future generations must learn from someone or somewhere proper mothering techniques as we must preserve our family life.

From the words of Elder M. Russell Ballard-apostle of the Lord from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he tells us in April of 2008: “There is no one perfect way to be a good mother.  Each situation is unique.  Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family.”

With those thoughts in mind here are a few tips for all women whether a mother, grandmother, aunt, or sister to promote and preserve family life.

  1. Be the Advocate for Your Child:  As frustrating as children can be at times, they need someone to stand by them through thick and thin.  Who else will stick up for their children but their own mother? Support at school, sports games and other activities, always shows that you take the time to be your child’s advocate. Mothers might not always be in the right place at the time but over all, putting forth the effort by standing up for your child will make a difference in their life.

  1. Consistent Good Habits are Important: Moms don’t have to be super women. The daily-what seems to be mundane-tasks are important to children.  Bedtime routines, mealtime routines and cleaning routines are all important in molding children into productive people. It is a security blanket for every child to know Mom will be there to make sure their life is in order. It won’t be perfect but consistent habits over all can make the difference in the security of a child’s life.

  1. No Name Calling:  Believe it or not, there are mothers who still emotionally abuse their children by calling them names and putting them down.  It is a crime and should not continue.  Children look to their mothers for support and positive reinforcement. How are they going to function as good citizens if they are always hearing negative words? There are other ways to discipline or teach a child to do what is right besides name calling. That doesn’t mean mothers never get angry. It doesn’t mean we don’t lose our patience. Mothers have an “endure to the end” calling and the more positive we can be to our young children at home the better they will be.

  1. Instill High Moral Values Early: Our language, entertainment and health habits can be a big example for our children.  Mothers don’t want their children to smoke. Most don’t think highly of dirty jokes or pornography.  We wouldn’t want them to steal or hurt anyone.  Instilling good morals early helps children know where they stand. It’s still in style to treat others as we would like to be treated.  As children grow and learn more about their world and what is appropriate behavior, we can be there to guide them through.  Of course once a child is 12, they start choosing for themselves what they prefer and mothers always hope their child chooses wisely. Instilling these values early can start a child on the right foot.

Motherhood can be overwhelming but it is certainly most rewarding. Not every child will make good choices.  Not every child will do as they are told but if we put the time in raising our children who are taught correct principles and live consistent lives in a supportive home, we can know we did all we could to bring good people into the world.

As Elder Ballard said back in April of 2008: “There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Armor of God: Great Protection for Families

As Christian families, we have all been admonished, exhorted, and counseled, from many sources on how important parents and children are in a family. We all want to learn to get a long with each other and we know the end goal of where we want to be after our life on earth has finished.

From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), President Boyd K Packer spoke to the youth on January 22nd of 2013 during the 100 Years in Seminary broadcast. He said “…our youth are being raised in enemy territory…. he (the Adversary) is in homes, entertainment, the media, language—everything around you.” That is a scary statement. As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents—we need to arm our youth with the gospel of Jesus Christ and be a good example.  We also need good role models so our youth will have someone to look up to in as a righteous disciple of Christ.
Ephesians 6: 11-12 says, “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

As parents we all wrestle against the powers of darkness. We are dealing with difficulties which are particular to our day.  This armor is helpful to all of us.  Verse 13 says:  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” With Paul’s great wisdom –we can all withstand the evil of the day.

Imagine a full body of armor as we would see back from the Medieval Days:
Each piece has a special purpose:  From Ephesians we read:
 14: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 15: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 16: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 17: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Former President and Prophet of the LDS Church, Harold B. Lee spoke to Brigham Young University students back in 1954 about this very topic and said:
“We have the four parts of the body that … [are] the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness:
1. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity; girt about with truth.
2.  The heart --typifying our conduct. (Breastplate and shield)
3. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life are shod with preparation of the gospel of peace.
4. Our head, which are our thoughts.” (helmet)

As parents we need to concentrate on these areas creating an armor which will withstand the arrows and darts of darkness.

1. Loins Girt about with Truth:  Our scriptures are our truth which we need to read each day as a family. We find truth attending our church meetings, reading the scriptures and uplifting, inspirational material. In all these places we are spiritually uplifted and arm ourselves in keeping ourselves safe from the fiery darts of the wicked.

 From that same talk from the seminary broadcast.  President Packer admonishes our youth to “get wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, with all thy getting, get [going!]”. There is wisdom in listening to our Latter-day prophets.   One piece of wisdom and truth comes from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” which was published in 1995 by the LDS Church. Although quoted many times, we need to remind ourselves again and again what we can do as parents to keep our families in tact and happy.

One part in particular is especially helpful from the proclamation:
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Now this isn’t written to help parents feel guilty. This was written to remind us of what is important.  As M. Russell Ballard, Apostle of the LDS Church tells us in a talk in the October General Conference of 2005 that The Family: A Proclamation to the World is a clarion call to protect and strengthen families.  A clarion is an ancient trumpet with a curved shape, many times used for a battle call. This visual metaphor is an appropriate name as we are in a battle for our families to be protected. There are so many sources from the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can use and The Family: A Proclamation to The World is just one of them. 

2. Breastplate of Righteousness:  The topical guide for Righteousness in the Bible says this: Equity ; God, Perfection of ; God, the Standard of Righteousness ; Godliness ; Good Works ; Holiness ; Honesty ; Integrity ;Judgment ; Priesthood, Qualifying for ;Righteous ; Sanctification ; Truth ; Uprightness; Walking with God.

Those are a lot of words describing righteousness but one word in particular rea lly sums it all up: Sanctification. This word best describes what the breastplate of righteousness means.  If we are sanctified, then we want to be righteous and we can be guided by the Spirit in what we should be doing.  The breastplate also guards the heart which

3. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: From that talk at BYU--President Lee says, “And then he (meaning Paul) said we would have the feet shod with the kind of armour that would protect our feet, suggesting the feet as the objectives, the goals of life which we should have guided by some kind of armour and protected from getting off on the wrong foot.”

We all have a purpose.  We all know that eventually we will return back to our Heavenly Father’s presence with our families around us.  We all want to be there so we need our purpose right in front of us.  With our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, we can walk in the right direction being protected from the darts of wickedness.

4. Shield of faith: The shield covering our hearts can help us to shield away from spiritual wickedness.  Faith is an ongoing process. We start out with just a tiny seed of faith and as we continue to attend our meetings, pray every day and read our scriptures—this faith will grow and we can point our shield out in front of us push away temptation.

5. Helmet of salvation:  The helmet covers our head. Our thoughts are disciplined to be kind to others. Our thoughts are important because as we think, we also do. Keeping our thoughts with the goal of righteous living in front of us, helps us as families to stay righteous. From The Book of Mormon, a righteous King Benjamin addresses uss to watch our thoughts. He says,  “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”

Our Father in Heaven wants us to be successful. He wants us to be happy so He gives us these tools to help us which will help our children.

6. Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God:  The word of God is essential to our    armor. We can find the word of God in our scriptures as we read each day to find encouraging words to keep us safe.

How important we are as parents.  We are entrusted with these special spirits from our Father in Heaven.  Sherri Dew, a former 2nd councilor in the General Relief Society presidency (Women’s Organization in the LDS Church) and CEO of Deseret Book once said in a talk about women:  “If we would unleash the full influence of covenant keeping women, the kingdom of God and the world would change overnight.” 

That is an incredible statement.  If we all lived up to our potential as parents—how wonderful this world would be in fighting the adversary.  Many of us do wonderful jobs teaching and helping our own children live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of us follow all the teachings of the gospel and still we have children who choose the worse path.  Many parents deal with this challenge and all we can do is love them and pray for them.  All we can do is be a positive force in their life so they know we love them. 
As it says in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Families can be protected from “enemy territory”. We can recognize the adversary in our life and choose the better path. With the help of the armor of God in all areas of our life, we can encourage and support each other in our families to make good choices and set a good example for others who are struggling.

General conference reference talk:


Courageous Parenting:  Teenagers Are Fun

            Teenagers are fun.  That statement draws a lot of attention.  Some parents are afraid of their teenagers, while others enjoy the time their children are in their teens.  It takes courageous parents to guide their teenage children through the pit falls and bumps in their early life. Teenagers are hanging on the eve of adulthood and it’s their last ditch effort to fulfill what they consider being “themselves”.  Many have passions about what they do and it shows in their actions. Others pass through quietly and contribute thoughtfully. One thing for sure, there is a lot more activity with a house full of teenaged children than with a house full of two year olds. Reflection and words of wisdom can help parents understand their teenage children so life runs smoother and safer especially those families of Christian/Judean ethics. Here are a few:

Parents Can Lay the Foundation: Children between the ages of 13 and 19 keep homes very invigorated and parents young as during adolescent time great changes take place in body and mind.  Parents should pay particular attention to what their teens do instead of turning a deaf ear to their activity. Granted, a two-year old will try to please his parents and for the most part, they go along with clothing choices, most foods to eat and bed time rules. But a teen causes parents to think through religious beliefs, moral judgments and why we should eat nutritious food for lunch instead of potato chips and soda pop. Teens, who are grounded in righteous endeavors typically will be more successful in this difficult world. Words of wisdom could never be truer from David B. Haight, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, church leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) back in April of 2003. From a talk given he says: “Though the world is becoming more wicked, the youth of Christ’s church can become more righteous if they understand who they are, understand the blessings available, and understand the promises God has made to those who are righteous, who believe, who endure. All of our youth are entitled to and need this knowledge to combat the forces of deception that would lead them captive into darkness.” 
Teens might think their parents are too strict with high morals but adolescent children know where they stand and that their parents’ care enough to enforce sensible values.

Teens Need Attention Too:   Some might consider teenagers very immature but there is a fine line to immaturity and just being fun.  A common characteristic of teenagers is the fact that many times, the whole world revolves around them and any negative situations they experience will go down in the history books as the worst occurence of their lives.  (Even if they were the cause of it.)  Yes, they are the “drama queens and kings” of life, but their perspective is an interesting one. Granted some of our teens have had to endure some pretty awful experiences that did go down in the history books as the worst ever, for example, the Columbine High School shootings, but for the most part teens overreact in their quest for adulthood.  Parents need compassion and fairness in dealing with the life of their teen as well as attention to the details of their lives. They are not done with parenting a child after 13. This is where the courage to be a good parent comes in handy as we are entrusted to train our children to put their best foot forward.  From another LDS church leader, President David O. McKay who was quoted in Treasures of Life,(Deseret Book Company, 1965, p. 71.) “What must the Lord think, then, of parents who, through their own negligence or wilful desire to indulge their selfishness fail properly to rear their children, and thereby prove untrue to the greatest trust that has been given to human beings?” The teenage years can be some of the most difficult for a child and parents can be a great source of strength during those demanding times.

Don’t Let Age Fool You:  Even though adolescents are old enough to take care of their physical needs, they are not always old enough to take care of their emotional needs.  Parents should be home when their teens are home.  Be there before school and after.  That gray area of life between childhood and adulthood takes a good listening ear and the foresight of a prophet.
            According to a Steinberg study in 1996 as related in an article “Depression and Suicide in Adolescents” by Cara Fausty, 1 in 3 adolescents has contemplated suicide and 1 in 6 adolescents have attempted suicide.  During the teenage years, there are such feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness that sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle in life.  Plus the fact that there are many external difficulties like parents divorcing or a separation of family, or a death of a loved one that it’s no wonder teens have a hard time coping.  From another church leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President Ezra Taft Benson said at a conference in October of 1982, “The family is the most effective place to instill lasting values in its members. Where family life is strong and based on principles and practices of the gospel of Jesus Christ, these problems do not as readily appear.”
Teens in their own right could be a great influence for doing good or a bad influence for getting into a lot of trouble.  With the help of parents, church youth leaders, teachers and friends, the life of a teen can be a positive experience for everyone involved as everyone should know: Teenagers are fun.

Around The Kitchen Table: Families Communicating Together

            From the time that my oldest child (I have nine) could talk, we have eaten dinner together around the kitchen table.  Even with the interruption of TV shows, sporting events and unwilling participants, I have always thought that eating dinner together at least 3 days a week was important.  I didn’t know why I felt this way, but I did and insisted that we sit down to dinner together as many times as we could during the week.  I have given in every so often to a “picnic” dinner in front of the television or eating in shifts at certain times but for the most part I have been successful in scheduling dinner times together and it was a good time for me to check in with my children.  Today, 30 years later, we are still doing this with my youngest three and many times our dinner conversations would be the start of a great evening.
            There has been so much written about the importance of spending time with our children and how parents should check in with their children’s lives.  According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), “’Parent Power’ is the most potent and underutilized tool to prevent teen substance abuse.”  What better way to get closer to your children on a regular basis than eating dinner together at the end of the day? CASA believes dinnertime is so important that they launched an annual event called “Family Day-A Day To Eat Dinner With Your Children.”  They chose the 4th Monday in September each year to especially schedule a meal with your children. But we don’t have to wait until September to eat dinner together.  We can plan it any day we like.  Some families plan special dinners on a weekly basis everyone to be home as in a Sunday afternoon. This helps keep a continuing schedule of family time together each week. Other families schedule meal times around weekly activities.  Whichever way you do it, the important thing is to follow through and do it.
In a General Conference talk from April 2003, L. Tom Perry, one who is an apostle from the Quorum of the Twelve, a church leader over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, reminds us how important families are in a “world of uncertainty and turmoil”.  He tells us: “ is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.  We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us.”
            Looking through a Better Homes and Gardens magazine at the doctor’s office a while ago, I found a great advertisement paid for by the Office of the National Drug Control.  Pictured was a family of six sitting around the table about to eat dinner and the ad said: “Studies show that kids who are closer to their parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.” Happy, stable children are more motivated to excel and set realistic goals for themselves. The time around the dinner table helps parents interact with their own children in a comfortable setting.  Children and parents are not always perfect together but communication is always better when the family is relaxed which creates stronger bonds.  Even for children with step-parents living in the home which can create awkward moments, eating together breaks the ice for everyone and communication can be successful.
            From June 2000, Parent Magazine, Ron Taffel suggests picking a night during the week and switching seats at the dinner table.  He says the “sense of novelty leads to fewer fights between kids and less wrangling over table manners.”   Everyone would get a different perspective.
            A check in with children (especially school aged) is so important.  If the idea of dinner every night is overwhelming, start with once a week.  Dinners don’t have to be fancy or even homemade.  They don’t even have to be in the kitchen.  Pick a spot comfortable for everyone without distraction.  Talking comes freely and parents will be surprised at some of the topic conversations.  As Ann Landers has said many times about eating together: “The point is to spend time with your children, talking about their day and yours, finding ways to work through problems and letting your children know you are available.”
             So break out the napkins and utensils and plan a great meal with your children and make your home a place of refuge from the storms of life.

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