It Takes a Village

We just took our daughter to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah. She is the last of our eight children to go on a mission. As we pulled into the facility the volunteer directing traffic pointed the way for us to go to unload her luggage and say our goodbyes. As we drove down the lane several newly arrived Elders were already there waiting to go in. As we pulled to the curb and opened the back of our car a seasoned Elder approached us. After warm greetings of welcome he asked her these questions … “Do you have a cell phone or computer?” “No, those were given to my brother.” “Did you bring your Immunization record?” “Yes, here it is.” His companion then took her suitcase while she carried her violin and off she went in her (longer than normal) red skirt and a smile on her face with anticipation of a wonderful experience that was awaiting her. I realized the tears I felt starting to surface were not for her as I would not have my daughter anywhere else in the world. The emotion I felt was for me because this event was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

Just a half hour before this experience as we were driving to the MTC we drove by an apartment building for students. As we passed it our daughter mentioned how this peculiar complex had a bad reputation. The young adults who live in the complex work or attend various schools in the area and choose to live there because of the fun and party atmosphere. No code of conduct is enforced. Imagine children being left unattended in a candy store with no rules or regulations letting their desires dictate their behavior. Compare that with what goes on when we are older without rules and boundaries.

We had a great discussion on rules and how boundaries need to be set for a happy life. We all do better when we know our limits. Who sets these guidelines of conduct that we follow? Parents, society, school, friends… they all have different levels and opinions of what is good and right or what brings happiness? Who do we follow? We all have a tendency to find the boundary line. With our “natural man” instinct, we push the envelope until we are told to stop. That is how a child learns behavior. In child rearing we allow our children to behave to the limit of our tolerance. If we have no rules about not jumping on the furniture…it’s a guarantee that your furniture will be jumped on. Rules and limits are needed.

As our children grow they seem to gravitate toward friends who share the same standards they want to live. I have seen enough of life to see what happens when a child does not have rules and punishment to fit those rules when broken. I’ve seen teens whose parents desired them to be popular and allowed the gospel standards to be relaxed. Some adults knowingly choose to “live in the world.” They break rules both morally and socially and ultimately end up with a false sense of happiness. I felt thankful for the bounds in which my daughter would be living the next 18 months in this formative time of her life. I know they will only bring her happiness and joy if she is obedient to them.

One of my sons was telling me about an old high school friend. He is not a member of the church and his life had gone a totally different path. No children and living with someone without marriage. It was interesting to contemplate how different his life would be if he had the gospel in his life to set a path for him. We cannot judge others if they don’t have our values but what we can do is follow the admonitions given to us that will bring true happiness and hopefully others will see that there is a better way to live.

As I watched our daughter walk away I was so grateful for the rules and guidelines she has been living for the past several years. I thought of the Strength of Youth pamphlet she received when she turned 12. She read it often and her Young Women leaders and Bishop quoted it regularly. I am grateful for her choice of a University that has an honor code and the teachings of the gospel that have brought her to this point in her decision making process. I realize also that she chose her path because of others around her.

I truly am grateful for the gospel standards and all the help I received while raising my children. Leaders reinforced the bounds that I taught. Gratitude for friends who lived within those bounds and family who helped each other make correct decision by word, action and example. I may have eight children who all went on missions but I will be the first one to say… we did not accomplish this alone. It takes a village to raise a child. We just chose the right village to live in.

Spacious Building

We attended the wedding of our nephew in the temple this past week. As we were in the dressing room the temple worker in charge of the brides asked us if we would like to see the bride’s dressing room. We, of course, said yes and off we went. It was beautiful and I could not think of a more fitting room in which to get dressed for your wedding. She showed us all the clothing they had if the bride’s dress was not temple appropriate. I thought back on my own daughter who had a cap sleeve on her wedding dress and she was ok with wearing a longer sleeved tee under her dress. I ask the temple matron if this was done often and she said that it was just because the style of today was with cap sleeves. Her next commented surprised me. She stated that it was the mother of the bride who usually got upset when they were told that the daughter needed to wear the tee under the dress. I would think it would be the daughter but she assured me that it was usually the mother who did the complaining.

The influence of the mother is so valuable to set a tone of spirituality and obedience. I wonder at this valuable crossroad in these young brides life what attitudes they have learned and will remember as they pass down to their daughters this same example?

Our daughter and her four young children have been visiting us for a couple of weeks. I watch her has she mothers her children. It is very de javu as I hear here talk to her children while I listen from the other room. She has the same tone of voice that I do and while she is talking and disciplining her children I can hear myself from a time past and remember my days while my children were young. I see the power of influence not only in what we say but also what we do as mothers. Those attitudes and behaviors are passed on for generations.

We live in this world today that has so many conflicting influences telling us how we should be. What can we do to keep our homes safe from those worldly attitudes that say it’s ok to be like the world and to be what you want to be? I don’t have to lecture about the influence of the television, Internet, music and printed media. We all know the bad and the good that it has to offer us. We just need to learn how to separate the messages of how we should live and apply the ones that lead us closer to our eternal goals.

I can’t help but think of the vision of the iron rod and the great and spacious building that we are trying to avoid and the river flowing beside it as we try to avoid the pitfalls of the world. Everything is so separate in the dream. The building has its place; the river has its place; the iron rod is there in the middle and if we hold tight to it our journey leads to the tree of life. Somehow that picture is a little different today. We live in times when the iron rod may be in the same place but the filthy river has waves that are rolling over the trail as we hang on for dear life to the iron rod. The large and spacious building has traveled to surround the iron rod. It is no longer separate but we are holding to the rod as it travels through that great and spacious building. The worldly things are surrounding us on every side. In our day we don’t have to go into the great and spacious building; the building has come into our homes via television, computers and media. You don’t go to it anymore…. It has come to you.

The line, “live in the world but not be of the world,” bring on real meaning. We must guard our homes! As the spacious building is swarming all around us the iron rod must be griped tightly with both hands. Our behavior must not be divided nor can we look back at the things of the world we want to hang onto. We can’t be a modern “Lot’s wife” who longingly looked back at the world she was leaving behind and was turned into a pillar of salt. Her attempt to retain a lifestyle evidently caused her to forfeit her identify. Nowhere can we find her name, just a reference as “wife”. Let our names be known and written in history for the good we have done and the righteous influence we have been able to achieve.


Not Being Neutral

The other day we had a lesson in Relief Society on the scriptures and the question was asked, “How can we teach our children to love the scriptures?” Good question and many great answers were given like scripture reading with your children daily, having picture books for them to look at or teaching how to apply scripture concepts into their lives. All these were great responses but as I’ve pondered this recently a concept came to me that goes even deeper than those normal answers. It is the concept of… not being neutral.

I hope I’m the only one who recalls times when daily scripture reading was done in a monotone voice that conveyed duty, rather than interest or pleasure. When was the last time you read as a family where you had great discussions about a concept? I remember the “light bulb” moments when our family stopped reading and a whole concept was discussed and shared by all. We progressed from being neutral in our scripture reading to an elevated level of understanding regarding what we were studying. Those were my favorite Family Home Evenings! The spirit testified, taught and helped bond us together as a family. A love for the scriptures developed as we shared our excitement for what we were learning and discussing together. We need to become passionate and excited about what we are reading not passive.

This concept doesn’t stop with just reading scriptures Think about having an attitude of neutrality in other areas of the gospel and how it may affect your family. Are you neutral when it comes to having your children go on missions or on issues of morality or ethical values? Can you consider the potential damage when you as a mother take a neutral stand on pressing issues or if you allow your child without direction, encouragement or enthusiasm on your part to decide for themselves where they stand? Neutral behavior and attitudes can dangerously influence your child to make incorrect decisions later on in their life.

President Henry B. Eyring expressed: “The pure gospel of Jesus Christ must go down into the hearts of [our children] by the power of the Holy Ghost. Seeking to be neutral about the gospel is, in reality, to reject the existence of God and His authority.” Moral Discipline by D. Todd Christofferson November 2009

Scriptures teach us about opposition in all things. This shouldn’t convey extremes, but rather contrasting differences, like light and darkness, good and evil. If we choose neutrality when faced with good and evil, on whose side do we stand? In fact, if we choose neutrality in life we, in actuality, do not choose. “Choice” is an action word such as in taking a stand for good and against evil while “neutral” is void of action. Make your choice and let your children know how you feel about principles and especially the Gospel.

We were not neutral in our pre-mortal life. We knew what we wanted and we stood strong. We were passionate and opinionated in our views without being overbearing and outspoken. This is what we must be again. If a child learns from your neutral example and remains neutral themselves on matters of eternal importance they will be easily swayed when the winds of choice start blowing. You can’t push your opinion of gospel topics and principles onto your children but you can show your love, enthusiasm and excitement for what you think and feel. Let them feel it and let them know your opinions with love and parental compassion. This will bless your family more than anything you can do.



When logging onto my computer one morning I realized my Internet was down. I immediately became very frustrated because my life and work begins when I’m connected. Paying bills, communication and everything else remained inconveniently on hold until the Internet came up. I was amazed at my reaction as I felt anger surfacing toward my cable provider. The thought went through my mind… “I need to telephone them and express my displeasure with their service!” As that thought passed another one came along just as powerful… “Have you ever telephoned thanking them for the many days that their service is working fine?” The answer, of course, was no. I once heard someone say that housework is only noticed when it goes undone and that morning’s experience proved its validity. Human nature in most of us is quick to anger and slow to express appreciation.

My thoughts drifted to a family raising children. How many times do children act correctly and do things right yet how often do we parents only comment when they do things wrong? This could apply to our spouse and our parents as well. All relationships would be better if we could bridle our comments and engage our brain before we speak, praising more and criticizing less. I once heard it said… “It’s too bad that we don’t have a mute button when we speak!” How different the atmosphere in our homes would be if words of kindness, compliments and appreciation were given more often and criticism was written down on a piece of paper to be discussed later?

“Have the same courtesy in your homes that you have when you are out in society. Thank your wives, thank your children, and say, ‘If you please,’ ‘Excuse me.’ These little things mean so much and make life so much sweeter.” David O. McKay Improvement Era, December 1968.

Overcoming our knee-jerk reaction to anger and use of harsh words begins with first… recognizing that pattern in yourself and then second…learning how to control your thoughts and words. Every word we say has its beginning first in thought so to change what we say will ultimately require that we change what we think. The words we say either strengthen or destroy bonds in a relationship. We have all heard that our eyes are the windows to our soul. It might be said also the mouth is its radio, sometimes broadcasting uncensored and uncontrolled thoughts.

We have all experienced the remorse of speaking before we think and hurting another’s feelings. Worse yet is to experience unkind acts directed to our children and witness the pain of our child who has just been hurt. The “Mother Bear” can emerge in all of us but it is how we deal with those emotions that are so important to our own development as well as our child’s. In watching my own children I find some can make and attract friends easily while others have a more difficult time. The one universal quality in forming friendships and keeping them is the “talent” to make others feel important and appreciated for who they are as an individual. A talent that can be cultivated and perfected in all of us…sincere appreciation!

Each of us can gain mastery in our words and thoughts. We can begin now in our next conversation or in our next experience when something doesn’t go our way. Think before we act in every situation, “Act Don’t React” to coin a phrase. Our children need to see us at our best as they follow our examples. We become their role models by the way we respond and treat other people. Begin by expressing your appreciation for all the good that is done to all those closest around you…your families! Teach them how to appreciate!


Teaching Independence

As I got out of my car at the gas station I noticed a lady at the pump just ahead of me with tears coming down her cheeks struggling with the nozzle. I approached her to see if I could be of assistance. She broke down even more as she told me her husband had just died and he had always handled this part of daily living. She had never put fuel in her car before. I instructed her how to remove the cap from the gas tank, insert her credit card, showed her how to remove the nozzle and select the grade of gasoline and then talked with her as she filled her car with gas. I got back in my car happy I could help yet mad at her husband for not teaching his wife to be independent enough to survive in this world we live in. I’m sure he felt it was his manly duty to chivalrously protect her. I assume it worked both ways, as there were probably things he had never done around the home that she always just handled too.

I compared this to a young friend that one of my children had while growing up. He was an only child and was doted on by his overly protective mother. She was divorced and only had her son to care for. He accompanied our family to a sports event while there we bought everyone a hotdog. As we were putting the condiments on our food he just stood there. I asked him if there was a concern and he gave me this lost look and said he had never prepared his hot dog before and needed help. This may not sound unusual but the young man was 16-years-old. This behavior is cute when they are two but at sixteen we have a problem. Our goal is to raise them to leave home, not enable them so they have to stay home!
I have thought much about the fine line in doing too much for our children and doing too little to help them. Our goal should be to teach them to be industrious and self-reliant. How do we teach them to fish so they can feed themselves?
In this short article let me expound on only two points that can make a difference in your child’s life. First is example. I had two sons who bicycled across the United States. Upon arriving home they talked about all the economically diverse areas they had pedaled through. They were astounded that in the middle of the day some families would be sitting on their porches just watching the world pass by. Grandfather, father and sons were all sitting there at a home that was broken down and in need of repair. This made a great impression on my sons and we talked about how generational patterns are passed down from father to son-to-son and so on. Idleness is a disease that is taught not caught. Make a difference in your family and, as parents, set the example of industry.

“It is work that spells the difference in life. It is stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands that lift us from mediocrity” (“Pres. Hinckley” Church News, 31 January 1998, 3).

The second point is entitlement. Being compensated just because as individuals they exist is the wrong reason for receiving anything. You don’t get a car just because you turn 16. A day’s work for a day’s pay should be the rule not the exception. Just because you live in a family is not the reason for getting spending money. An allowance has value and meaning only when one puts forth commensurate work and takes upon oneself accountability. In a family unit everyone needs to pull together, chores should be expected. This teaches a responsibility outside of oneself and that we help take care of each other. A wise woman (my mother) once told me, “Never do anything for your children that they can do for themselves.”

The best concept you can teach your children is the joy in accountability and responsibility of oneself and those around them. There is a joy the comes in earning and paying your own way. We need to teach them how to fish to take care of their own needs but these teachings will be passed on to their own children as well. Your example and attitudes will influence generations yet to come.

“Work is therapy for the soul. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of work. We cannot simply sit around and do nothing and expect to be successful in spiritual or temporal things. We need to do all that is in our power to accomplish our goals, and the Lord will make up the difference.” Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life, By Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin


Visualizing the Future

I usually write advice about relationships with your children and how to improve and motivate them to be better but this article is a little different. I have learned recently through basketball, of all things, one of life’s greatest secrets of success that I have to pass on to you… no pun intended.

I love watching basketball and with one of our sons working for the Phoenix Suns I find pleasure in watching their games. It keeps me connected with him and his life as we discuss the team players and his job. I especially love watching Steve Nash, the Suns’ point guard. He is the first player in NBA (National Basketball Association) history to shoot 50% from the field, over 40% from three-point range and over 90% from the free-throw line in three different seasons. He currently leads the NBA in free throw percentage at an amazing 94.1%. He has great understanding of the game and is always surprising me with his foresight in the plays he makes. Totally unselfish on the court he is one of the best team players I’ve seen.

During a recent game, thanks to technology, sports commentators aired several shots of Steve Nash in slow motion magnifying his uncanny omniscience on the court. As he is running down the court and a teammate passes him the ball he has the ability to 1) see the ball being passed to him, 2) anticipating exactly when to catch it but most amazing 3) he takes his eyes off the ball and looks ahead up court to see which team member he can in turn pass the ball to. In slow motion it became obvious he has a knack to anticipate exactly where to place his hands to catch the ball while his head and eyes are focused elsewhere down court anticipating his next move. Several different slow motion shots of Steve Nash repeatedly demonstrated his moves. On the court he has the gift to anticipate what is coming, react to the present and visualize the future! There it is… life’s secret formula for success in twelve short words. Now… how do we gain that ability and apply this concept into our own lives?

If we could acquire that same ability it would help every situation our families and we face in life. In reality it is exactly what we are having this earthly experience to learn. We just all learn it in different ways. Some learn it early; others never understand it yet the concept is essential for our development as eternal beings. The scriptures actually teach this concept as we read about all the different personalities in the scriptures and read advice and admonitions given to us through the words of past prophets.

We live in times where problems we encounter may be economic trials, relationships within families or challenges with our children. We would handle all differently if we applied this principle of visualizing the future. How many of us have said or will someday say… “I wish I knew then what I know now!” Life’s situations could be handled better if we all could apply this secret of success in our game plan against the challenges that come our way. The ability to understand this principle, comprehend it and apply it into our life is choice… it is up to us to develop and use these skills.

My thoughts on this topic came full circle when my daughter-in-law called me the other day remarking that her four sons are in youth basketball this winter season. As she was relating to me the weekly practice schedules and games on Saturday I smiled as I sympathized and remembered those busy times in my own life. My advice was to go full steam ahead. Sports and what is learned from team play is wonderful if, like all activities outside of the home, they as parents stay involved and reinforce the good and soften the hardness their child will experience. Listen to what is being taught to your child and apply sports principles… yes, I mean sports principles… to gospel principles that will strengthen their eternal characteristics.


Motivating Our Children

On a recent visit home our married son went rummaging through his old footlockers that have been stored in the attic for years. As a teenager every piece of paper, award, trophy and memento that was of true value to him had been carefully stored therein. As each item was pulled out a flood of memories rushed over me as I remembered special events in his life that partially shape who he is today. An old baseball mitt, an award saying “Great Job”, school papers with an A+ marked at the top of each page, old photos of childhood friends, medals and trophies that he had earned. Nothing of real value… or are they? Not in material worth, of course, but each item represented to me a motivational milestone that made him reach a little higher or work a little harder so he could obtain the desired artifact. What surprised me was his current reaction to these items that had once been so valuable to him. I felt the loss of his “Peter Pan” innocence as the man who stood before me merely saw these items as “celebrating mediocrity”.

I’ve given much reflection to this experience and have been silently grateful for those experiences he had. He was motivated by those rewards. They taught him to achieve excellence in areas that I was not capable as a mother to offer him. It was not the medal he got as he crossed the finish line at a Mt. SAC cross country race that was of value… but rather the lessons he learned while earning the medal. Somehow those objects he worked to earn motivated him to achieve.

Children are all unique and no one knows them better or has their best interest at heart like you do as their mother. Motivating our children is more than just helping them “celebrate mediocrity” with the trinkets awarded to them. It is helping them reach their God-given potential and to recognize their uniqueness as an individual.
“Parents often motivate their children to practice skills—inspiring young musicians by taking them to a concert or motivating aspiring athletes by attending college or professional games. But I have found that this principle can also be used to motivate children to develop character traits. When we notice unique talents in our children, we can encourage them. ‘Maybe you will become a writer, or a scientist,’ we might say. If we do this often enough and sincerely enough, our children may have the courage to try out our version of what the future could hold for them. When a trusted parent describes future possibilities, a child pays attention. We can influence our children by helping them define a vision of future possibilities.” Helping Your Children Believe in What They Can Become Lynn Scoresby, “A Future They Can See,” Ensign, Apr 1985, 38
My daughter called the other day and put a different slant of this topic of motivation. She works at Y Be Fit on the BYU-Provo campus. Clients seek her counsel about diet, exercise and fitness. Together they chart out a plan that will work for the client. After a week they come back to review their progress and account to her on the goals they set. Three concepts are put into action 1) motivation 2) a plan, and 3) accountability.

Her comments to me about her job described exactly what we do as mothers for our children. She realized that most of her clients accomplish more when they have someone to whom they are accountable. What she needs to figure out, as their mentor, is what accountability method motivates them to succeed. For some it is making a daily tally sheet, for others it is giving them general guidelines and letting them find their own way. Some unfortunately don’t find the motivation within themselves to change and therefore don’t see any results. As a counselor she can only do so much before it is their responsibility. Each week she teaches them a new principle that they can apply throughout the next seven days. All she can do is hope that they are listening and apply what they have learned to achieve their goals. Some clients function best with only knowing that they will have to report their successes or failures of the week; others need to check off lists; and others need step-by-step instruction on how to live their lives. I hope you can see the correlation here involving motivation between my daughter’s job at Y Be Fit and our job as mothers.
Everyone is motivated by a different method. Our job is to find what works for our child to help them become better and more successful in school, home, church and life in general. It is neither the trophy nor the act of a return and report session that is of value, but rather what personal traits or characteristics are gained in the process. Our task is to find which carrot we need to dangle in front of them that provides the right motivation to propel them to greatness!

The In-Law Adjustment

All our eight children came home for Christmas this year. It wasn’t quite like the old day s because with them came four spouses, whom I love as much as my own children, and seven grandsons. We had a great time but the dynamic of married children, unmarried children, and grandsons was a little overwhelming. It made me feel like the juggler at a circus trying to keep all the balls in the air. Family unity took on a different meaning, as we were all together again under one roof. So when my husband put a mother-in-law joke on my desk after the holidays were over and everyone had left I wondered what he was trying to tell me. The title “mother-in-law” frequently invokes humor as an object of ridicule. Personally I’ve never found much humor in the jokes because I try to be a food mother-in-law or maybe because I had a wonderful mother-in-law.

We attend the wedding of our good friends’ son in Japan. Very different from a wedding here in the States, no gifts like toasters, towels or blenders are given to the wedding couple. Instead wedding guest gives money. The only gifts at the wedding are those given by the bride and groom to their guests who have impacted their lives. (That would be totally new concept for wedding her in the USA.) The bride and groom also change clothes there times during the party: first, wearing a western tux and while bridal dress; second, traditional Japanese attire and third, formal wear. The bride and groom are the center of attention while the parents who helped get them to this point in life sit with the audience. In fact, during the program the wedding couples’ employers spoke on the attributes and accomplishments of the bride and groom.

I share this with you only to illustrate how different, both in attitude and tradition, they are culturally from us here in the States. Yet motherhood is still motherhood. As we sat at the table with our friends, the groom’s mother expressed her concern regarding her new daughter-in-law and I found them quite familiar. Rumiko said, “I hope she can love me and our family. I hope I can find a balance in assisting them when needed yet staying out of their business. I hope she will support my son to maintain his Christian beliefs. I want her to share their children with us and not spend time only with her family. I hope she can make him a better person and not criticize his shortcomings or be critical of the way I raised him.” Her concerns continued but hopefully you can see where I am going with this. Motherhood is not cultural and has no language barrier or geographical boundaries. Rumiko is a different nationality but she is first a mother and has the same universal concerns every mother feels.

This experience aroused my curiosity and I asked my own children-in-law their own concerns when they got married and came into our family. I found their responses quite interesting. Here are some of them.

* I wanted to be loved and accepted.
* I wanted my in-laws to give us space and not give us unwanted advice.
* I wanted to be accepted and not criticized because of my family traditions or personality.
* I wanted them to see us as one.
* I didn’t want them to take sides when issues arose.
* I didn’t want them to compare me to others in the family.

What an eye opener this was for me, realizing that both children-in-law and parent-in-law want and need to same things. Acceptance and being loved was the major concern of both parties. Both expressed the desire to fit into the roles they now had.

Our actions can either welcome or alienate. Remember that if, from your point of view, your child married the wrong person, the best advice is to “move on.” Once a child exercises agency, it is then time to support that decision. No purpose is served in being negative regardless of the choice made. Accepting your child means accepting their choice of spouse just as a spouse needs to accept and honor their mate’s parents. Even the scriptures tell us that the couple should leave their father and mother and become one. To me that definitely sounds like a new family unit has been formed. We should respect the right of the new unit, as we want to be respected.

It should be the goal of the whole family to welcome the new member as one of their own. A friend shared with me this great example. It was the second marriage of her daughter who had a son from the previous marriage. Her new mother-in-law took the bride’s mother aside and said, “I want you to know how happy we are to have your daughter in our family and we look upon her son as an incredible bonus!” I personally can’t think of anything more touching and accepting. This wise mother-in-law gained instant love from the bride’s family by her kind words and actions.

Together my children and I came up with a list of things that will help build a stronger family unit. Here is our list that applies to both ends of the in-law stages. Read it. Add your own thoughts. Then I suggest that communication take place and principles be applied.

* In-law children were not raised in your home like your own child. Give them time to get use to you. Expect there to be differences and embrace them.
* Keep negative thought to yourself. Don’t let your children talk about their spouse negatively to you.
* Accept differences in the way their home is managed. Get ideas from them.
* Respect decisions made by your children and give advice only when asked.
* Don’t take sides when difficulties arise.
* Strive to make the new in-law one of your own. Seek out their interests, ask for their opinions, become their friend.
* Visit their home as a guest being excited about their life and achievements.
* When you call on the phone talk to both. Don’t keep secrets from one or the other.
* Be willing to share your child with the spouse’s family and encourage good family relationships there. Join in family activities and be interactive.
* Be sensitive to the in-law’s feelings. Apologize if you ever offend them but most importantly forgive them if they offend you.

I don’t often recommend books but if your family needs help in this area, Principles of Love, How to successfully Parent Your Adult Children, has practical ideas to help you. It is by Garth A. Hanson, PH.D.

Leo Tolstoy said, “All happy families remember one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Wanting to be a happy family doesn’t mean only until a child leaves home. From my experience happiness in a family is constant work and needs to be guarded and worked on continually especially as family member are added.

Just a light-hearted thought with Valentine’s Day coming up… when remembering those you love, don’t forget to acknowledge “your children” who married the child you raised. It’s their happiness that guarantees your own child’s happiness and without that you just might get them back…and you definitely don’t want that!

Time Out for MOM

My daughters-in-law and daughter amaze me with their untiring attitude toward their workloads. They do children 24-7 without complaining… not to me anyway. As I talk to them on the phone and hear the noise in the background of children just being children I admire and love them for the mothers that they are. The thought I would like to give you all this Mother’s day is the knowledge that these days will not last for very long so love the time you are in.

I remember several years ago when I was in the height of child rearing we went to a company dinner at my husband’s work. We sat across the table from one of his coworkers, a career woman who had earned well over six digits that year in commissions. But with three unsuccessful marriages and currently single it wasn’t surprising that her only daughter had problems with drugs and self-esteem. Everyone rallied around her giving advice to help with her daughter. It was also well know that my husband and I had a large family and that I was “just” a stay-at-home mom. In the course of making conversation she turned to me and said, “And what are you going to do for yourself this coming year?” Instantly my life flashed before me…one in college, two in high school, one in junior high school, two in elementary, one in kindergarten and a toddler. That did not include my business, a church calling and school committees that I headed, let alone piano and singing lessons or the soccer and baseball teams I taxied my children to. My response to her, and the only work that came to my mind was… “Survive!” I could see her thinking, “Really, what does a stay-at-home mom do all day?” I knew she had no concept of my life. She had no clue that I hadn’t been alone in the bathroom for years.

At the time this experience hurt because I sensed her disapproval and condescension. She obviously placed me on the bottom end of her value scale. Today I find humor in her reaction. I love the rewards that have resulted because of the heavy workload. I would not trade her salary for what I have today. It was also during this time of being so busy with everyone else that I discovered the value of time out for me. Not in a selfish way but in a rejuvenation-of-self way. When life got so full and I found myself being short with the children I knew it was time to take a break. I learned the value of self-development and enrichment. I once asked my husband if he could arrange his schedule to watch the children on night a week so I could to an oil painting class. He was always great to help me like this and even encouraged me to expand my knowledge but he questioned the cost of each lesson because things were sometimes tight. In my way to get around the cost I made the comment… “Well, it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist.” When put in that perspective there was no arguing the point. I took my lessons and a whole new world opened up, not only to me but also for my children. They took an interest in what I was doing and the real sharing began. They saw me learning just as I encouraged them to do. I saw the value of time out as a way to improve my family.
Time out can be taken in many different ways, but the first and most important way, in my opinion, is to stay spiritually in tune. Also, reading your scriptures, saying your prayers and going to the temple. Just put the gospel first on your time out list. I have found that you are better able to cope as a mother and wife when you have the spirit. It not only reminds you of what is important in life but also enables you to receive the revelation needed on a daily basis. It also gives you the peace and serenity that is so needed as a mother.

Setting personal goals keeps you progressing. Take a class, read a book, make a craft, anything that allows you to see results from your work. This validates your creativity when you can see immediate results from accomplishments. Rewards from being a mom do not come daily. Trophies are not passed out for diaper changing. Seeing results from your time out help you get through the days when no rewards are seen. Houses only get messy again and another meal is just a few hours away. The goals set and hobbies learned will only benefit your home.

Take advantage of your community. Visit places together with your children and bring another family along. The adult conversation goes a long way as you talk about your children and topics outside your home. Every community has parks, museums, libraries and places to take your children. Take advantage of these activities. Use these outings to stay physically active which will help you keep a positive outlook on life.

Fill your life with really happenings. Stay away from fluffy TV programs and books that give you an unrealistic view on life, motherhood and marriage. They do not uplift and edify your spirit. Make your life real by giving service to others. Go the extra mile on your church callings. I know of one young mother that in her spare time, when her children are napping, does extraction work for her ward. It gives her a way to keep her computer skills up, learn more about another country feel great about doing something in the genealogical area plus it gives her a topic to speak on other than her own children. Stay on top of what is happening in current events. Rise above the daily routine both mentally and spiritually. This will prove to be your breathing space when you need it.

Most importantly, don’t think of motherhood as a burden. None other than you, not anyone else, places unrealistic expectations of how you should be upon yourself. Just enjoy these days of being so busy when life is not your own. The rewards will be there. That alone time in the bathroom really will come again. I would not trade a six-digit salary for my family. You can’t put a price on love and the rewards that children can bring.

He Looketh Upon the Heart

In the pre-mortal world I know I stood in the line that read, “No Camping Required.” Next I hunted for the line that read traveling would be “on the planes” not “on the plains.” I got what I wanted too. Here I am with modern plumbing and travel across the country in only hours, not months. What I didn’t bargain for was inappropriate forms of entertainment, questionable music and media, and television that would have such a strong pull on my family. I always assumed that virtual reality was just everyday living but I’ve learned after seeing s few episodes of certain TV shows that are virtual “non-reality.” The show what fits this to the tee is Extreme Makeover. It is a full-out-war trying to mold the way we think about our appearance and ourselves. It purports that true happiness can only be achieved if we meet its standard of beauty, with testimonials to prove it. The innocent subtlety of all this began in the 50’s when the Barbie doll first hit the store shelves. Little girls grew up thinking that Barbie should be the image of how to look and it has been a self-perpetuating perception ever since. I personally like the Renaissance art period…not that is reality.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look nice. On the contrary, I feel one of the most important things you can teach your daughters are attractive grooming so they radiate their best. I just don’t feel that best is what the worldviews as best. I read an article that stated last year’s number one most requested graduation gift by young women was some form of plastic surgery. This tells me that young women today have a lack of confidence about who they are. One day my daughter brought up the topic of the reality show Extreme Makeover because everyone at school was talking about it. She made this comment, “Well Mom, after they have all the surgery to make themselves look good on the outside they are still the same on the inside.” Needless to say her comments lead into a great gospel discussion that I hope reaffirmed her wise insight.

The world judges from the outside but the Lord looketh upon the heart. How in this day with so many outside visual influences can we help our daughters understand the Lord’s view? Here are just a few points that I think are worth to consider. Please add your own thought to this list.

* Don’t personally get caught up with the world’s opinion on fashion and how you should look. Examples speak louder than anything you could say.
* Accept your daughter for what she is and don’t accept or encourage her to look like the girls in the media.
* Be her friend and cultivate in her interests in other areas such as art, books, travel, good music, sports or hobbies that you can do together. These activities will give her a deeper outlook and appreciation on life rather than just the superficial.
* Help build self-confidence by allowing her to make more of life’s choices. Remind her that through prayer and scripture study correct choices can be made.
* Teach her the value of true friendship. Encourage her to seek out friends she accept her as she is and build her up. Qualities that she has leaned in Young Women should be her guide: integrity, knowledge, good works, etc.
* Ask her opinion and advice, letting her know you value her thoughts. Tell her when she does something that impresses you or when you are pleased with her.
* Encourage her to develop the soft side of being feminine and help her understand the qualities of compassion, love, kindness, service and to follow her spiritual intuition.
* No success compares to your own success when trying to build confidence. Let her achieve and feel the gratification of doing well and making correct choices. Praises her achievements and create opportunities for her in which to have success.

Notice that none of the above points mentioned how to wear make-up or how to stay in style. Modesty and the radiance of having the spirit are always in style. True beauty comes from within. The person inside is the real you and I am becoming more aware of this every year as my outside looks change and settle as time passes. A comment I heard from an 80 old women that other day as she was talking about the effects of ageing was… “Well, I’m beautiful on the inside and that is really all that matters!” What an example that is… now that is not only truth, but reality.

In an address given by President Hinckley (Ensign, May 2001), How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream? He doesn’t once mention how a young woman should look but instead focuses on how she should radiate. There is a big contrast between these concepts.

I have often wondered if just maybe the “Camping Required” line would have been easier to handle after all… These times are hard to raise a family in with all the outside influences that tug at our children but I have come to realize that the Lord has not left us alone. He did not send us here to fail. He has given us the direction needed to succeed in this adventure of motherhood. We have the ability to stand strong while using these resources just as our sister did in the past with their challenges in crossing the plains.