Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaching Responsibility

"The most responsible children usually come from families in which parents almost never use the word responsibility. It's a fact: Responsibility cannot be taught; it must be caught." {from Parenting with Love and Logic}

Be the example

"One of the best (and hardest) ways to engender responsible behavior is to be a good role model with your own possessions — put your car keys where they belong instead of on the dining room table, and tidy up your stack of magazines instead of leaving them all over the couch."

This is why I need to start now by forming good habits so that I can teach my children. I can be a true role model for them and not a hypocrite that merely scolds them for not doing what I do not even do...

There is so much truth to this music video. Children really do watch everything we do and want to be just like their parents. I guess that means we better be the prime example and lead out in righteousness so they will want to follow in our footsteps. Enjoy!

Make your children accountable for accomplishing tasks

Many toddlers are eager to help with chores, and while their “helping” may not always be appreciated, keeping their excitement and the habit of helping out alive, should be. Sticker charts are a great way to keep toddlers excited about helping. Their chores may have to be completed with you helping every step of the way, but you are laying the groundwork for children that find chores and helping a way of life.

Grade-schoolers are quite competent at handling various responsibilities, and they're developing a sense of how some chores, like picking up litter in the park, can benefit an entire community. Most kids don't have much internal motivation to be responsible, so they may still need occasional reminders. At this stage, it's best not to overload your youngster with lots of tasks. Instead, ask him to perform fewer chores — but then make sure he follows through and does them.

still find helping to be an exciting venture and usually are thrilled when time is taken to teach them new chores. They are ready to do some chores without constant supervision. Rewards at this age are very motivating. A sticker chart that allows you to build up to bigger rewards can be appropriate. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great option and fosters independence in choosing a reward.

Children in the preteen age are capable of increasing responsibility where chores are concerned. Keep in mind that many children this age rely on continuity. Find a system that works for your family and do not change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Make sure that you factor in rewards and consequences and address those issues with your children. Let them know the consequences of not completing chores, as well as the rewards for fulfilling their responsibilities.

Teenagers are developmentally ready to handle almost any chore in the home. At the same time a teenager’s schedule can sometimes become quite hectic, leaving little time for chores. Make sure that the workload of your teenagers is manageable.

Word things in a positive way

Jerry Wyckoff, a family psychologist and the coauthor of Twenty Teachable Virtues, suggests using what he calls "Grandma's rule" to encourage responsible behavior. Instead of issuing an ultimatum ("If you don't, then you won't"), Grandma's rule says, "When you've done what you have to do, then you get to do what you want to do." "Grandma's rule makes it clear that your household has rules that everyone follows," says Wyckoff. If your child says, "John asked me to come over to his house today. I want to go," respond with, "When you've finished your homework, then you can go play." Saying, "If you finish your homework, I'll take you to a movie," on the other hand, really just bribes your grade-schooler for what should be ordinary behavior — and it raises the possibility that he'll decide he can live without the treat and thus pass on finishing his homework. I found this interesting but it is a lot of how you word things that gets the right message across that you are trying to convey and helps them to keep a positive outlook and learn the things they way they most need to.

Let your children feel the consequences

As long as the outcome isn't harsh or dangerous, let your child live with the results of the choices he makes while the price tags are still low. If he's responsible for packing his homework into his backpack each morning and he doesn't do it, don't hand-deliver it to his classroom later. He may regret having forgotten his homework, but you can bet he'll remember it tomorrow. You can nudge him along by asking him how he can remember next time.

Praise and encourage

Pour on the praise. Positive reinforcement will teach your child that his efforts are important and appreciated. When appropriate, point out exactly how he's helped everyone else: "Great! Now that you've mowed the lawn, we can all have a volleyball game this afternoon." Praise is an expression of worth, approval, or admiration. It is usually given to a child when a task or deed is well done or when a task is completed. Children need feedback on the work they do. An alternative to praise is encouragement. It refers to a positive acknowledgment response that focuses on student efforts or specific attributes of work completed. Unlike praise, encouragement does not place judgment on student work or give information regarding its value.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Teaching Children About Sexuality

Gone are the days when parents can talk superficially about "the birds and bees" and expect their children to turn out okay. Our hyper-sexualized culture now reaches into more than 60 percent of American homes via the Internet and two-thirds of homes through cable TV. The Lord has given the responsibility for the teaching of children to parents, and this is one area where children need accurate and morally correct information.

The subject of sexuality is discussed so openly in today’s world that your children cannot avoid hearing about it. But most of what they hear will teach them the world’s abuse of the power of procreation. The home must be the place where they can learn the Lord’s plan for the use of this power and gain the strength to withstand the falsehoods taught by the world.

Only occasionally will a child see on television healthy male-to-male or female-to-female affection. Frequently the language, voice tones, and body mannerisms shown by televised entertainment do not portray the gentle affection for which the Savior’s followers ought to strive!

President David O. McKay said,

“The home is the best place in the world to teach the child self-restraint, to give him happiness in self-control, and respect for the rights of others.

“I feel that the first contribution of the home to the happiness of the child is to impress him with the fact that there are bounds beyond which he cannot go with safety; second, to teach him to be considerate of the rights of others; third, to have him feel that home is a place where confidences and consolations are exchanged; and fourth, to have him cherish the thought that home is a haven of seclusion and rest from the worries and perplexities of life” (“Home … and the Strength of Youth,” Improvement Era, Aug. 1959, p. 583).

We must teach our children respect for themselves and others. To take care of their bodies and to know the importance of intimancy in a marriage, that it is needed and desireable and should be saved for that time. This should be taught their whole lives in little ways that helps to form a respect and opinion on the subject before anything contrary to YOUR beliefs comes up...that way they will have a measuring stick to measure the correct beliefs up against what they hear from the world.

To answer questions accurately, we must know the names of body parts and at least basic facts about body functions. Slang terms are not in keeping with the divine origin of our bodies. We are forbidden to refer to Deity with disrespect. Would it be pleasing to the Lord to refer to our bodies made in his image with disrespect? Neither should we be silly and use ridiculous words or terms. Teach sexuality by using correct, respectful language, information, and example. We must be straightforward and open, clear and consise.

Children must learn the differences between relationship categories and what is proper within each. Interpersonal relationships may be divided into three basic categories: courteous, affectionate, and intimate.

We must be examples of showing proper and natural affection to our children. In the absence of natural affection at home, the child may imitate the false affections he sees displayed by schoolmates or television actors. Often television and movies show people being aggressive, rather than kindly and affectionate, with each other.

These are just some principles and a few points that I have thought of. I know that the church has many more good resources online as well as in books that can further help teach your children about sexuality. We can not afford to leave this teaching to the schools or even the world...it is our responsibility to protect our children and also to give then a correct view of sexuality.

Laying The Foundation

The Arbinger Institute's Parenting Pyramid Explains the foundations of parenting and how they build on each other, consisting of 1. way of being, 2. relationship with spouse, 3.relationship with child, 4. teaching, and 5. correction.

The more effective parents are at building up their relationships with their spouse, between their children and encouraging appropriate behavior all along, the less time and effort adults will spend correcting a child's behavior. Parents weren't meant to spend most of their time correcting their children. We must focus on how to help things go right, instead of just reacting when things go wrong.

Many times we create the very problems we think we are trying to solve and the surprising way to establish lasting solutions and deep peace in all of our relationships has to do with setting a foundation with strong relationships and teaching so that we will have to do very little correcting.

If you are struggling with correcting your children’s behavior, this pyramid should help you gage how consistent you have been in teaching them. If they are not open to your teaching, check out the quality of your overall relationship with them. If you are struggling to connect to your kids, you might want to invest in reinvigorating your marriage. And if you are struggling in your marriage, you might want to do some introspection into who you are being right now.

I love these ideas because it helps put things into perspective and gives priority to family relationships. It has a lot to to with preventative parenting. If we set a secure foundation from the very beginning and strive to love and teach our children in little ways they will progress and grow in the way of truth and righteousness and be able to advance in success ways throughout their life.

The quality of a marriage relationship is a huge essential part of parenting and such an important influence on your children's view of how to treat others and how to form meaningful relationships. Marriage along with parenting is a process but also there are important habits to sustain and hold to. I want to strive to be the kind of wife and parent that takes inventory regularly of how I match up to this pyramid and not become complacent to old or familiar ways that are no longer effective.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Natural & Logical Consequences

Natural consequences occur naturally, hence the name. They are not controlled or manipulated by anyone. When you plant a flower in your garden and take care of it, it grows. That is a positive example of natural consequences. When you put your finger in an electric socket, you get a shock. That is an example of negative natural consequences.

Logical consequences are situations engineered by the person in authority and they are logically connected to the wrong. It is logical because it "fits" the offense. For example, if your teen breaks curfew, he/she isn’t allowed out the next night. If he/she doesn’t eat dinner, he/she doesn’t get dessert. These are examples of negative logical consequences. Setting up a reward system for good grades and giving the reward when the grade is obtained is an example of a positive logical consequence.

When parents want their children to learn from their mistakes, they have the choice of allowing the child to deal with the natural consequences or set up logical consequences. But how do you choose between the two types of consequences? When is one more effective than the other?

Discipline choices are never easy. When natural consequences are immediate they are very effective. Logical consequences are most effective when they are creative and create a burden for the child so that there is discipline and learning involved.

Hopefully knowing the difference between natural and logical consequences will help. Whether using a natural or logical consequence, it is also helpful for parents to simply and briefly explain the consequence to their kids and not allow themselves to get drawn into an argument or debate. Should children not respond to the parents' communication of consequences and mend their ways, parents must follow through and deliver the consequences all of the time. If parents forget, back down, or don't follow through with the consequence as promised even just a few times, children will learn that consequences aren't real (or at least, can be manipulated) and this knowledge will double their efforts to misbehave again in the future (because they will think they can get away with it).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reflections on Routines

Morning Routines:
I have noticed that the entire house runs a lot smoother when parents sets the stage, the tone and the expectations of how mornings should be run. Also, when everyone is working together and doing what is expected of them, everyone is happy. Children need to be dressed and washed, with teeth brushed, chores will need to be done, breakfast needs to be prepared and eaten, scripture reading and prayer… there are so many things that seem so important in the morning! I want to approach mornings and the work they take with joy because we are doing it together as a family and because the way that mornings start set the stage for the rest of the day.

Mealtime Routines:
Children helping with the preparation of dinner, setting the table and clearing the table are where they can learn important lessons of small acts service and good manners. It also helps share the work load when children are clearing their own plates and helping mom with the dishes. Gentle encouragement is important in this area, for example when a younger child hears you thanking an older child for helping to care for our things so carefully and making the house a lovely place, they want to do it too.

Bed Time/Evening Routines:
I think the key to successful night time routines is simplicity and consistency. for example; bath, books, prayer, bed could be a simple start.
Keeping it simple also provides some familiarity when traveling or are away from home. Also, I think it is important to prepare for the new day by setting out the things you need in advance like clothes, school lunch, filled water bottles, etc. Getting ready the night before is not always easy. Even now, I don’t really feel like spending extra time on things that don’t seem to matter at that moment, but when I skip this routine, I always end up regretting it in the morning.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fostering Internal Motivation

How can we motivate children to work harder in school, in a sport or in practicing an instrument? Will the promise of a reward for practicing the piano help our child practice more? Or will the threat of punishment be more effective? When we try to motivate our children to work harder, we can often end up feeling frustrated by the results.

Many parents use "behavior modification" programs, such as rewards, sticker charts or token systems to teach children skills, get children to take on responsibilities, or curb an unwanted behavior.

Unfortunately, over 30 years of long-term studies with adults and children by distinguished researchers conclusively show that these programs may appear to have positive short-term results but are consistently ineffective and often counter-productive long-term.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when the learning activity and the learning environment elicit natural motivation. We can not motivate our children but rather create, through our teaching, opportunities that can evoke self-governing principles.

The following elements help to create internal motivation:

  • Autonomy - the need to direct our own lives
  • Mastery - the desire to make progress in one's work
  • Purpose - the ability to positively impact ourselves and our world
When we try to motivate our children, it sometimes backfires as they dig in their heels and refuse to buckle under the pressure. By attempting to exert control over our children's behavior, we are reducing their autonomy - one of the key elements of internal motivation.

Psychologist Robert W. Hill of Appalachian State University found that when people are trying hard because of their own desire for excellence, this effort can lead to greater satisfaction and mental health. However, if the pressure to perform is coming from others, it's likely to lead to dissatisfaction and reduced well-being.

I read an article called "The Two Faces of Perfection", in which the author says,

"Kids need to get the message, 'You need to have high standards, but you don't need to be perfect.' If you have unreachable goals and you're constantly dissatisfied with yourself, you can be miserable. Unequivocally, you don't want a parent who is constantly criticizing, so the child develops a self-scrutiny that always finds fault with their own performance."

While we all want our children to try hard and make good choices, in order to accomplish this we need to allow them to practice making those choices. Some of the choices they make will not be so good and that will give them an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

By giving our children the chance to develop their self-motivation, we encourage them to grow and find their own internal strengths.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Divine Parenting

Our earthly parents are given stewardship over their children much as Heavenly Father is also our father and has the ultimate stewardship over us. There are so many things we can learn from the type of parent that Heavenly Father is to His children.

"In many ways earthly parents represent their Heavenly Father in the process of nurturing, loving, caring, and teaching children. Children naturally look to their parents to learn of the characteristics of their Heavenly Father." -Elder Robert D. Hales

Heavenly Father and our parents can see things in our lives better than we can. When we obey Heavenly Father and our parents, we will be happy. Heavenly Father is the greatest example of unconditional love and giving his children agency. He loved us so much that he was willing to let a 1/3 of his children choose to follow Satan's plan because for them to grow they needed to make their own choice even if the choice was a bad one. The stewardship of parenting comes with such joy yet so much responsibility.

There are also many examples in the scriptures that help us to better follow Heavenly Father's example of teaching and guiding our children.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." -Proverbs 22:6

Our Heavenly Father provides us with additional guidance as to how to discipline our children in the way that he disciplines us when we do not follow his counsel. The word of God is very clear for us as earthly parents to discipline our children. When we are disobedient will we escape the discipline of our Heavenly Father? No and I can assure you although we as earthly parents may “hit and miss” sometimes in our discipline, God NEVER does! You can be sure that every act of disobedience will be disciplined....and for parents to be effective we must be consistent, immediate, clear and yet loving and understanding in the ways that we teach and discipline our children.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Families Are Forever

All the way home from Utah, in which we spent this last weekend, I was thinking how much I love my family and the difference that they make in my life {and that one day I will have my own little family in which I will have a duty and responsibility to make a difference in their lives!} I know this is a long quote but I couldn't cut any of it out.

"When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality. The plan of the Father is that family love and companionship will continue into the eternities. Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family so that all can righteously endure to the end in mortality and dwell together throughout eternity. It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved in our families. If we return home alone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, “Where is the rest of the family?” This is why we teach that families are forever. The eternal nature of an individual becomes the eternal nature of the family." -Elder Robert D. Hales

I love that quote & for the peace and knowledge that being an eternal family brings me. I began thinking that, to me, spending time with family is a lot like the constant crashing of waves on the seashore. The shore never tires of the ocean's waves washing up and down the seashore because the shore only gets more polished, more beautiful and more renewed each and every time.

I love my family and the motivation and renewing spirit that I come away with every time I get to see and spend time with them. I feel of their love and support and it simply washes away my troubles and gives me added meaning and strength to go about my days. I learn so much from each and everyone of them.

The actions and even the countenances of others really do make a difference in our lives. The time we have with our family is precious. Each experience with our family however significant, however small etch forever memories in our hearts. Family is so much more than a luck of the draw placement of a random group of people.

I know that each of us has come to the family we have for a reason and purpose. We each have a certain place in God's plan and mission to fulfill in touching the lives of others. Friends and neighbors come and go but family is forever. It is no coincidence that my Heavenly Father has allowed me to cross paths with such an amazing group of people.

Each and everyone of my family members is an angel to me because of their constant and everlasting encouragement and unconditional love. Family is just a little piece of heaven on earth. Eternity may be a long time but I am confident each of us is willing to walk to the end of the world and back for one another. We may not all be perfect but I wouldn't have my family any other way! Thanks fam for brightening my life and lifting me on my way....you have given me great examples to follow and carry on to my family.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Preventative Disicipline

Preventative parenting has to do with preventing misbehavior and problems before they ever happen. It is laying the foundation for effective parenting.

Successful ways to do this can be to,

-Set consistent limits and clear/high/age appropriate expectations to set a foundation to begin with....based on their specific temperament.

-Be interested in child's development & growth.

-Monitor and supervise child. Know where child is and what he or she is doing at all times.

-Correct and follow through with disciple the first time.

-Teach principles and doctrines.

-Establish clear communication and listening patterns.

-Establish and maintain routines and structure.

-Redirect misbehavior.

-Anticipate potential future problems and make needed course corrections..don't wait till it is a major problem.

A great example I thought of was teaching etiquette and dinner manners at a Family Home Evening in preventing having to nag and correct 50 billion times during dinner, making it a much more meaningful and enjoyable experience for all. This way you will have already implemented rules and set expectations of how your children should act at the dinner table. These rules then need to be consistently enforced and yet allow for flexibility. Being consistent provides structure and security.

"An important thing that you as a parent have going for you is that your children come into this world with a natural desire to please you."

This quote in its self gives me a feeling of relief in regards to preventative discipline because I know I CAN have influence on my children and if I implement rules, limits and boundaries at an early age they will want to please me and follow my example of righteous living. I do have control over how my children behave and how they are ultimately shaped into the person they will someday become. That is my responsibility as a parent and that quote gives me hope and faith that my children will listen to me and respect the things that I require of them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Discipline is about Teaching

This week in class we had a guest speaker who talked to us about effective parenting. She said, "Effective parents take the time to teach and listen to their children, establish good routines, and guidelines, play with their children and speak in respectful and loving tones." Looking back I feel like this is very much the way my mother was with us kids.

With each mistake or misfortune in our lives, my mother would turn it into an opportunity to teach us. When our pet bird died we had a funeral for Nala in the backyard and talked about the plan of salvation and the resurrection. When a friend was unkind to us she taught us about the principles of forgiveness and repentance. She was always looking for opportunities to teach us. Just this week my family's cat had a litter of kittens and one passed away. My 4 year old sister Brinley was heartbroken but at the same time she was able to be uplifted and strengthened by a mother's faith and testimony that she would be able to see this kitten again.

This is the kind of parent that I want to be. One that listens with her heart and mind. It is truly not what happens but how we handle it that makes the difference in parenting. If a situation is handled in a positive way this will build up the child and teach them valuable life lessons from the very beginning of their lives. If situations are handled in negative or blaming ways then this only destroys faith and self-esteem.

In our readings Ginott teaches that children must be acknowledged and understood before their behaviors can be changed and teaching can take place. He also said, Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes a lasting impression.” I love that quote because it teaches us to think before we speak or act and that what we say and how we say it matters to our children's emotional and social development. I have noticed that insults cut deeper and last longer when it comes from the parent and this is why as parents we must be ever aware of the messages we are sending to our children in the ways that we respond and interact with them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Family Memories

Creating family memories helps instill in children correct principles and values. Creating these memories and fun often requires patient preparation, time, and energy but it is an investment that is worth the effort. Relationships and commitments to each other grow stronger and often valuable lessons are learned that can not be learned anywhere else.

Creating family memories and traditions has a lot to do with creating righteous traditions. The practice of these traditions is to truly keep us close to the great heritage which is ours to enjoy and should be something every family should try to keep alive. This process involves embracing all that is spiritually elevating in our family and societal traditions and discarding that which is a barrier to our eternal view and achievement. Our traditions of Sabbath day observance, family prayer, family scripture study, service and activity in the Church, as well as patterns of respect and loyalty in the home, will have a great effect on our children and on their future.

In our discussion in class today we talked about how learning to play, laugh and create this time with your family is just as important of an element in your child's development as your consistency in family prayer, scripture study and FHE, in fact it can even be a big part of the spiritual element in your home. I know that these spiritual traditions in my family helped us come together. I still have many fond memories of these time and even though they were not always the most productive in learning about the gospel we often learned how to meet the needs of our siblings or be able to give strength to each other as we lifted each other in laughter and love.

Some of the greatest supports to my family relationships growing up were the every day traditions of saying prayers together to the yearly getting together to reenact the nativity during Christmas time as well as eating a traditional crab dinner for Valentine's day and expressing our love to each other through simple Valentine's Day cards. Also, the tradition of my whole family attending whatever activity each sibling was involved in. Sometimes it was a drudgery to have to wake up at 6 in the morning on a Saturday to go to a baseball game an hour away but it created meaningful memories and times that we could just enjoy the company of each other and join in on fun conversations, games and activities. Soon enough we became more and more excited for these times and looked forward to support each other in our recitals, sports games or award ceremonies. Because it was a family event that we wanted to be involved with it made us want to be involved with each other every day and in turn our relationships are strengthened and enriched forever.

Forming Close Relationships

The parent child relationship is a very important one. First of all, they are eternal relationships that do not end after this life so it becomes necessary and important to nurture them now so that we continue in that kind of love and sociality in the next life. Second of all, these relationships set the stage for all other relationships to come. They become the base of the learning environment from which children grow and provides a security that can be found no where else. We are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants to seek dilligently to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. If we don't our children will seek for that human bond and closeness elsewhere in unsafe relationships that may not be what we especially approve of.

Today in class we talked about the main principles associated with close parent and child relationships. The top 5 I wrote down were Trust, Respect, Understanding, Service and Love. Others were open communication, listening, time together, praise, high standards, atmosphere, forgiveness, humility, sensitivity, support...and the list goes on.

The biggest most important thing in enhancing and developing our relationships is found in loving our children. All other principles flow out of unconditional love. If we do not consistently express and show our love how will our children's hearts nurture and sustain faith in God who loves us more than we will ever know. The two greatest commandments have to do with love. Loving our Father in Heaven and loving our neighbor. Perfect love also casts out all fear. As a parent one of my main goals is to show my children the love that our Heavenly Father would have me show and in turn their faith in God will grow and be developed as I show that love and protect and watch over them like our Lord does for each of us.

A quote that I love from Elder James E. Faust says, "You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Let parents who have been conscientious, loving, and concerned and who have lived the principles of righteousness as best they could be comforted in knowing that they are good parents despite the actions of some of their children."

I know that I have spirit children who will be mine forever, who are waiting for their time here on this earth. There is nothing else that I will ever own, no worldly thing I will ever acquire that will be worth so much as the love of those children. I want to raise them in righteousness and express and show them my love in all that I do.

There are times when I will have to be humble and ask of their forgiveness and times when I will have to rewrite my wrongs that I have possiblily done unto them but through it all I want my children to know that I love them and that I truly care for them and respect them. I want to maintain open communication and know the things that are important to them, I want to know who they are and what they want to become. I want to spend quality time with them and help lead and guide them in all that they need me to.

I am so glad for the relationships I have with my parents and for their love and example to me of cultivating and consistently growing and developing that loving relationship with me so that I can some day be able to show that kind of love and respect to my own children.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Parenting With Heart & Real Intent

It becomes important to understand your values, motivations and beliefs so you can be an intentional, conscious parent and guide your children from the heart using your intuition.

Unlike a job, as a mother or dad you don't punch in and out, you have very few vacation days. You can't resign, and you usually don't get another assignment. So, parenting is serving. Parents in order to function under God's plan, sacrifie time, agenda, and energy with a desire to raise children who will be a blessing and useful in God's kingdom.

As parents we need to be able to "bring forth fruit with patience" and "bear fruit in every good work."

This Scripture mentioned, also talks about "admonishing" our children, and that represents a huge part of what parents are to do in regards to guiding their children. It represents things like training, instructing, teaching, reproving, and disciplining.

"We can see disciplining our children as an incredible opportunity to seep grace into their life, and pour love into their life, and to correct their thinking."

Choosing to parent intentionally is important in producing a stronger, healthier, and more resilient human being. Intentional parenting means considering every aspect of your child's development in the context of today's environment. Planning ahead and creating a realistic vision for the family of your dreams will serve as a valuable guide you can constantly refer to along the way. The ability to anticipate the challenges associated with parenting in our current culture will help you maintain a permanent advantage. The more you can anticipate, plan for, and address your future role as parent, the closer you will be to achieving your dream.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nurturing Babies

Research has found that touch, combined with gentle massage, had a positive effect on infant weight gain and survival rates. These are interesting results considering the Attachment Theory.

In addition to this research it has been found that children who were picked up, hugged, cuddled, cradled, and petted or stroked were shown to gain weight faster and began normal developments like crawling and walking earlier. These infants also slept better and were more alert when awake due to an increase in general relaxation. Gently stroking a baby’s stomach in a clockwise direction has been found to promote healthy digestion and can help alleviate gas pains and constipation. Massage can also relieve some of baby’s colic pain and discomfort.

Touching an infant has also been shown to develop and strengthen the attachment between a parent and a baby. This attachment increases feelings of security, trust, and comfort. The child learns that his parent is there to love and protect him. He will feel safer and more relaxed, and he will learn to cry only when he has a need to be met. This feeling does not just nurture an infant, constant touch helps reinforce the parent-child relationship for years to come.

As Sister Beck has said, we need mothers that now how to comfort and nurture their babies with compassion and love. This is truly their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. It is so interesting to me to find research that supports the importance of this divine role.

It is also important to note how nurturing is continuously important throughout a child's life. Parents can nurture their older children by being involved and interested in the child's school and other activities, aware of the child or teen's interests and friends, and willing to advocate for the child when necessary.

When parents spend time and energy discovering and paying attention to their children's needs, they are rewarded with positive, open, and trusting relationships with their children. This reminds me of how Heavenly Father's relationship is with us. He is always willing to be there for us, it is when we spend the time coming unto Him and doing His work when our relationship grows and develops. He trusts and loves us even more and since He already knows us perfectly it gives us an opportunity to come to truly know Him. Heavenly Father is truly our greatest parenting example.

Parents who develop the ability to respond sensitively to the needs of their child, no matter what age, will find parenting easier and more enjoyable.

Attachment Patterns

The behaviors that babies show when they are distressed reflect the quality of their attachments to parents. Among “typical” parents and infants, children develop expectations based on a long history of interactions with parents. One can then “see” these expectations as children behave in characteristically different fashions when they are distressed.

Through careful observation of mother-infant pairs in naturalistic settings, Mary Ainsworth noted differences in the way children moved away from their mothers to explore and then returned for reassurance and affection. Ainsworth’s research also led to the identification of three attachment styles. In general she described infants as either securely or insecurely attached. Insecure attachment can be further subdivided into either an avoidant or resistant style depending on the particular pattern of behavior displayed by the child. For each attachment pattern there is a corresponding parenting style:

Secure Attachment:

Children explore freely in the presence of their caregiver, check on him or her periodically, and restrict exploration during the caregiver’s absence. Children who are securely attached show varying levels of distress in the absence of their caregiver but respond positively to the caregiver’s return because of their faith in the parent's care. They will seek contact with their parent when distressed and will settle down once contact is made and comfort is provided.

Parents of secure children are sensitive to their child’s signals, receptive and accepting of their child’s distress, and consistent in applying this positive parenting style.

Insecure Attachment:


Children seem not to care whether a parent is present or absent. In the presence of the caregiver, avoidant children will explore their environment without caring about where are what the parent is doing. Upon departure avoidant children are minimally distressed. when parents return, avoidant children do not move toward the parent or try to initiate contact. In fact, they often ignore or avoid the parent. Despite this apparent lack of concern, infants with this style show as much, if not more, physiological arousal than other infants, suggesting that they have learned to contain/accept their distress.

Parents exhibit care patterns that do not provide adequate comfort when the child is emotionally upset, ill, or hurt.


Children are characterized by exaggerated expressions of attachment needs. They are often clingy and preoccupied. In the presence of their caregiver these children are reluctant to explore their environment and preoccupied with getting the attention of their caregiver. When a parent departs, resistant children become extremely distressed. When the caregiver returns, resistant children both seek and resist contact. When they do seek contact they have difficulty settling down and do not respond well to their caregiver’s attempts at soothing.

Parents of resistant children tend to be inconsistent in response to their child’s signals of distress.

--When I read about these patterns it made me extremely sad to learn that children with insecure attachment patterns "develop the inability to form secure attachments and react in a hostile, rejecting manner with their environment" when this could all be prevented with proper care and nurturing of the child from the beginning.

Parents have a lot to do with a child's nature, personality and how they react to relationships. Even the smallest acts of kindness, protection and caring like a hug, kiss or a smile, make a big difference to children. Research shows time and again that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents have the best chance of developing into children, teens and adults who are happy, healthy and competent.

When I am a parent of a newborn i want to love, care for and nurture them so that they feel secure and happy. I know that this is my primary role as a mother and does not end at infancy. Children need love and support all throughout their lives.

Nature v. Nurture

The nature versus nurture debates concerns the importance of an individual's innate qualities versus personal experiences in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits.

As we discussed in class, it is not one or the other it is a mix of both our nature, biological traits, and our nurture, or environmental influence, that make us who we are. We are each born with innate temperaments and personalities that are carried throughout life but they also change and shift because of outside influences as well as during times of development transitions.

In class we talked about the other influences that science fails to look at such as the influence of Heavenly Father, Agency, Spiritual Identity and Satan.

I gratefeul to know that I am a Child of God, that my spirit is eternal and that I have had the gifts, talents that I do now since before I was born, and that we each have the light of Christ to help us know what is right.

I know that I am blessed with a Heavenly Father who touches my life in so many ways every day. I am influenced and taught by the divine intervention that comes into my life. The Lord's hand is apparent in everything I do.

We have the ability to change who we are, our very natures through Christ because of our agency, spiritual identity and the ability to shun the adversary. We change our behavior through faith in Christ and repentance. The sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God can change our natures or our personalities so that we become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19)

As ur love and understanding of these things increase, Satan's influence in the home will be diminished. Heavenly Father asks us to live close to Him and keep His commandments so we can recognize and resist Satan's influence.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Slow to Anger

It is important to remember that when we are stressed as parents we will react in the way that is most familiar to us. (It is interesting that the word familiar almost is spelled like family) This can either be a good or bad thing depending on how you react. The best way to find out what parenting style you are or how you will react is to look at your beliefs and the way you define parenting. What is your purpose and/or motivation? If you don't like the ways you are familiar with you must be that much more aware of how you will be reacting.

The scriptures tell us to be slow to anger. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). When we are slow to anger we are aware of how we are feeling before we say anything. My mom always told us to think before we act.

I can also think of the example from the New Testament when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery, to Christ. In a mob like frenzy and trying to find some way to accuse Christ, they asked Him what should be done to her. Jesus merely stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. Then the answer he gave them was something they were not expecting and one by one they left. He then showed mercy to the woman and told her to begin the process of repentance and sin no more.

I think how aware Christ is of his emotions and how much more slow to anger I need to be to live up to his example. He truly is the greatest example of being in control of his words, thoughts and actions. I think if we can respond to our children in these kinds of manners we will be that much more able to be a good influence in their lives and show our love and care for them as we answer them in soft tones and reasonable words.

Parenting Styles

There are three parenting styles that most parents fit into. The first is Authoritarian where the parents always try to be in control and exert their control on the children. These parents set strict rules to try to keep order, and they usually do this without much expression of warmth and affection. The second is Permissive where parents give up most control to their children. They do not set clear boundaries or expectations for their children's behavior and tend to accept in a warm and loving way, however the child behaves. The third and probably most effective style is Authoritative. Authoritative parents help their children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. Parents do this by providing clear, reasonable expectations for their children and explanations for why they expect their children to behave in a particular manner. They are also supportive and warm in the ways they go about teaching and guiding their children.

Research on children's development shows that the most positive outcomes for children occur when parents use authoritative styles. Children with permissive parents tend to be aggressive and act out, while children with authoritarian parents tend to be compliant and submissive and have low self-esteem. No parenting style will work unless you build a loving and caring relationship with your child.

After learning about the impact of parenting styles on child development, I wondered why all parents simply don't utilize an authoritative parenting style. After all, this parenting style is the most likely to produce happy, confident and capable children.

I guess a lot of a parent's style depends on what and how they want their children to learn. It also includes culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level and religion, & I think for the most part parents are going to be somewhere in between parenting styles since both parents came from different families in the first place!

Friday, January 29, 2010


No two children are exactly alike. Each child has their own identity and personality that is unique from every other person that has ever lived. Your second child will never be a carbon copy of your first. Therefore, no child will be raised, taught and handled in the same way.

So how do you consistently parent yet allow for differences?

I know my parents were good at setting consistent standards for us but in various situations those standards could be adapted to the individual and their circumstances. For example, I was ASB president my 8th grade year of middle school when I was 13. I wasn't quite old enough to attend stake dances and so the same thing went for school dances. Well since I was president and I was in charge of decorating for dances and making posters and all that....my parents let me go to the dance. I remember that none of my friends really went and that I was only going to help run things. My mom came along and I remember what a support that was to me. My parents were not being permissive or lax in relation to the standards they had set by letting me go to this middle school dance but valued supporting and nurturing me more than anything. That was a higher priority to them than anything....and that is why I am who I am today because the example and love that they showed to me was the best thing they could give me.


So is the youngest child always going to be raised differently than the other children?

As I was thinking today about demanding maturity and appropriate age expectations, I began to think about my own parents and the way they treat their children....and I can definitely say the youngest has been raised much differently than the first child, ME! i don't say this in a bad way because I see this in just about every family. As time goes on parents maybe have more money, time and resources to care for their younger children. Parents are older and more experienced by the time they raise their younger children. They have already raised a few children so they maybe believe what they have done in the past is sufficient and no longer feel the need to implement some of the things for their youngest that they did for their oldest. Is it that parents take their knowledge and experience from raising their previous children for granted? Do they forget their vision that they had for their first child or do they have the same one?

It also seems to me like the youngest grows up a lot faster because they associate with older siblings that have paved the way before them. The youngest might have higher expectations because of their older siblings or they could be lower. I think maybe parents become more lax because they have the older children to set examples for the younger ones...there isn't as much direct teaching but more comparison and referencing to what has worked in the past. Is this making any sense?

I am just trying to figure out why this is and also, why is it that middle children sometimes get more neglected?

I am in a group dynamics class this semester for my major and so I often think about the dynamics of a family and what it does for individual members and the effect it has on the group as a whole. Maybe it is just something you must learn from experience...like actually having a family and witnessing the variety of personalities, talents, and aptitudes that they each bring with them....but as with all things, their ARE certain patterns families and parents must follow to be able to raise a successful family.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Parental Influence

The parent-child relationship is the most important relationship the child has. I have learned that between 6 and 10 years of age, parents spend less time with their children due to the fact that the children have begun school and are quickly developing their own friends and getting involved in after-school activities. That is why the years preceding this time is so important for teaching your children good habits and simply because your presence in their life and the support parents can give is invaluable.

Although the time spent with the children is less once a child begins school studies show that the parental influence in the life of the child is still very strong. It is important to realize that because this is the developmental stage preceding adolescence, it is a time of preparation for the adolescent stage in life. So making sure a strong foundation is laid now can help ease the transition from childhood to adolescence in the coming years. Parenting is all about transitions, growing, learning and adapting.

President David O. McKay has expressed, "God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth.There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility."

The parent-child relationship is truly the most important relationship the child has and we can not shirk from this responsibility.

Faith in Christ needs to be our guiding tool in influencing our children for good. As parents, we have been promised that we can bind our children to us by exercising our faith. This applies even if they do not listen to righteous influence and go astray, our faith and support will influence them for good. We may not always be able to influence our children but as parents we do have a strong affect on the way our children carry our their lives. Plus it is a set responsibility for us to lead, guide and provide an example to our children so that they will grow up to do those things that that Lord would have them do.

Learning from Mistakes

In Elder Bednar's talk, more Diligent and Concerned at Home from this most recent conference, he gives families 3 suggestions on how we each can become more diligent and concerned in our homes.

1. Express Love and Show it
2. Bear Testimony and Live It
3. Be Consistent

In talking today in class about the fears of making mistakes as parents I was reminded of this talk and the reassuring feelings I felt as I heard it in conference a few months ago. I want to choose to focus on the last of his suggestions where Elder Bednar spoke of his family's scripture study and family home evening time.

He said, "Now, I am sure what I am about to describe has never occurred in your home, but it did in ours."

"Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected."

"Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent."

"Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome. But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together. The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time."

I loved this part of the talk because I learned that what parents do truly does matter and the fact that my family home evenings growing up entailed quite the same banter as the Bednar family was pretty hilarious.

Elder Bednar also said, "Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable."

Though we might make some mistakes along the way, as long as we are being consistent in the ways of the Lord and ever striving to become the very best we can, our families will be preserved. Each of us will make mistakes as parents, it is pretty much inevitable. The way we choose to deal with those mistakes is what really matters. If we can learn and move on and focus on the opportunities at hand, we will be blessed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Role of a Mother

Both within the Church and outside the Church we are troubled by seeing people of the world wanting to define the family along with motherhood in ways contrary to God’s eternal plan for the happiness of His children.

The Proclamation teaches that “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Nurturing refers to parenting behaviors such as warmth, support, bonding, attachment, recognizing each child’s unique abilities, and attending to children’s needs. Nurturing in and of itself is more important in the development of a child than is any particular method or technique of child rearing.

The virtues, abilities, and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a woman and are refined through marriage and motherhood. A mother’s nurturing love is so important. Because our sweet mothers love us, we learn, or more accurately remember, that God also loves us. This love is empowering and all encompassing and comes close to the Christlike love we each should be striving for.

There is no greater role than that of a mother. From the beginning God has made it clear that woman is very special, and he has also very clearly defined her position, her duties, and her destiny in the divine plan. She is a co-partner with God in bringing his spirit children into the world!

An important role mother's have is the influence for good they have on their children. A mother's example is so important. Mothers have far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family.

The Lord has promised us great blessings if we will do our part in this divine plan. President Herbert Hoover gave this incentive, “If we could have but one generation of properly born, trained, educated and healthy children, a thousand other problems of government would vanish. We would assure ourselves of healthier minds, more vigorous bodies, to direct the energies of our nation to greater heights of achievement.”

How fortunate we are to have the Church of Jesus Christ established in these latter days, with a prophet of God upon the earth to receive divine revelation and direction! We are so blessed to have been given the wonderful plan of life and salvation.

We must prepare ourselves to assume the roles of mothers by gaining knowledge and wisdom through a good education. We must all be aware of what is going on around us and be prepared to thwart Satan in his attempts to divert us from our divine destiny. With knowledge, wisdom, determination, and the Spirit of the Lord to help us, we can succeed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Following The Lord's Pattern

"I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived." D&C 52:14

Today in class I learned just how detailed a pattern for a shirt can be. Patterns follow shape, construction, size, detail. If patterns are not traced uniformly then every piece will be off, sizes will not match, even the pattern on the shirt its self will be off.

If we liken this to our families and marriages...The Lord has provided us a specific standard to pattern our lives after. I am so grateful for that pattern, for the guidance and light it brings into my life. I would sure dislike learning the patterns of the world on how to raise my family or conduct my marriage. Today there is even disalignment in the world in regards to how a family should be defined!

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we find the pieces of the perfect pattern within the Proclamation to the Family, scriptures, a prophet, ordinances...etc. Within these, we can pattern our life in a way that will bring us the most happiness for ourselves and our families. I know the ways in which to raise a righteous and successful family and that is so conforting to me. Althought the family is under siege, we have the nessesary tools to win.

We also discussed in class how it isn't the big things distracting families. The way a family is constructing their pattern can be mere a 1/16th of an inch off, but if it is continually replicated and altered in that way, those little things can throw a whole family off track. Satan will not lead the family down all at once. The father of lies will sneak his way into families inch by inch till he has hold of one of the most important and central unit of God's plan.

We need to intentionally and very purposefully cut, sew, fold, mark, mend...so that we are striving and living up to the Lord's pattern. We may not be perfect but we can try and as long as we are following the gospel teachings and ordinances we are going to be okay.

We can make course corrections in life and there is never a time too late to change. This is can be made possible by the power of the Atonement which I am so grateful for. I am also grateful for the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who led and showed me the way I must live to return back with Him someday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Family Under Siege

There has been a war between light and darkness, between good and evil, since before the world was created. The battle still rages, and the casualties seem to be increasing. The destroyer would like to make all God’s children miserable. To destroy families is the supreme goal of Satan.

So how do we protect and preserve and strengthen our homes and families in a world pulling so hard in opposite directions? So much now is the need for us to make our homes so sweet that the world tastes bitter to our children.

We need to continually arm ourselves with the armor of God & be the daily "fasteners" of our children's armor by...

-Being consistent in holding daily family prayer and weekly family home evenings.
-Make our home a place where the Lord’s Spirit can reside.

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

-Only allow uplifting conversation & media in your home.
-Teach & live the gospel and basic values in your home.
-Establish a love for reading the scriptures together.
-Create meaningful family bonds.

"Creating meaningful family bonds will give your children an identity stronger than what they can find with their peer group or at school or anyplace else.This can be done through family traditions for birthdays, for holidays, for dinnertime, and for Sundays. It can also be done through family policies and rules with natural and well-understood consequences. Have a simple family economy where children have specific chores or household duties and receive praise or other rewards commensurate to how well they do. Teach them the importance of avoiding debt and of earning, saving, and wisely spending money. Help them learn responsibility for their own temporal and spiritual self-reliance."

-M. Russell Ballard, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Liahona, Nov 2005, 41–44

The Lord's plan for Happiness and Salvation should remind us what matters most is what lasts the longest & our families are for all eternity.

Doctrines, Principles & Applications

As teachers, leaders, and parents it is vital that we nourish those we teach and lead by focusing on the fundamental doctrines, principles, and applications emphasized in the scriptures and the words of our latter-day prophets.

Elder Henry B. Eyring said, "We can teach even a child to understand the doctrine of Jesus Christ. "

It is most important for us as parents to teach our children doctrine, the why behind what is asked of them. For example, if we do not teach them why it is important that we keep the Sabbath Day holy, and we only apply the commandment by exercising it, then they might not catch the true significance.

It is more important to teach doctrine so that children can grow and learn by individually applying and practicing the underlying principles taught. This is how testimonies grow and our works become aligned with the pattern the Lord has set for His children.

Joseph Smith said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."

We must allow our children the agency to choose for themselves but at the same time we must not allow them to choose to do just anything, nor would we want to give too many rules to follow that their agency be stilfled. So there is a balance to keep....we just have to remember that there is no one formula to parenting....that is why we are taught mostly doctrine and principles so that within our individual lives and circumstances we have the agency and opportunity to carry out those doctrines and principles in a way that works best for our families.

Parenting with Purpose

At first I felt super overwhelmed with the thought of having to write an all encompassing mission statement for my future family but as I learned it should be a live document that should be change and altered with time, circumstances and needs, I began to understand why beginning one now is so important. If we are to be intentional parents we need to provide our children with a vision. I don't want good things to happen by chance, I want to make decisions on how to raise our family with a purpose in mind.

It is like the conversation Alice in Wonderland had when speaking with the Cheshire Cat.

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.

If you don't know where you are going or want to go then it doesn't really matter where you end up. I want to have a direct influence on who my children become and teach them the things that will prepare them for the lives that lay ahead of them because that is my God given responsibility and duty.

Now I know that I do not know everything or anything about parenting but I do know how I was raised and I see both the good and the bad, the things I want to continue and the things that I will leave out of my own parenting. That is the beauty of life, we are in control of what we want to become, the decisions we will make and the lives we will influence because of who we are. We have the potential to grow and develop, exercise our agency and learn from our mistakes.

Here's to learning more about becoming the parent I want to become.