Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Parenting Thoughts

Apparently what I included in my last post wasn’t controversial enough to spark comments so what do you think about this – no second chance consequences. I have been contemplating the way that Heavenly Father parents. (His children are not perfect, but he is.) One pattern in his parenting is that he clearly states the rule/commandment/expectation and gives a consequence that is naturally tied to the rule. When one of his children brake the rule he goes through with the consequence even if it will cause the child (or him) discomfort. He didn’t say, “Eve, you shouldn’t have eaten that fruit, next time you do you will be cast out of the garden. I mean it this time.” I think there is a really delicate balance we must find as parents. I don’t want to be too easy on my kids, but equally damaging is being too controlling. As a mom I don’t want to watch my children feel uncomfortable, guilty or upset. (Not to mention that enforcing consequences usually punishes me too.) I think that a pattern with my generation of parents is that we are too easy on our kids. Either we are training them or they are training us.

Let me throw another analogy out there. What if police officers ALWAYS gave a second chance? What if every time we were pulled over they said, “You didn’t make a complete stop at that stop sign. If you brake another law while I am watching you, you will get a ticket.” If they always gave a second chance there wouldn’t be incentive to keep the rule in the first place. What do you think?

A couple of nights ago I started rereading the book “Christlike Parenting” by Glenn Latham. I must have been inspired to pick it off the shelf where it has been gathering dust with our many other parenting books for the past couple of years because it is giving me really good ideas right along the lines of what I have been thinking. I want to share one of them that I am going to try. He recommends making a list of the virtues you want your child to develop. (I am going to take my list from D&C section 4.) Post the list where you see it often. Then make a point to recognize when your child is exhibiting one of those virtues. Point out the specific virtue and praise the child. Instead of just teaching your child compliance this strategy should help to reinforce the development of admirable virtues. I am excited to try it.

Finally, if you haven’t read the article in the March Ensign that gives ideas for watching conference with little children you may want to. I am excited about giving some of the ideas a try. I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 30, 2009


For the past few weeks I have been preoccupied with thoughts about our huge responsibility to teach our children. I have been wanting to blog about some of these thoughts in hope of further discussion and to pass on some of the ideas that have come to my mind. I also want to organize my thoughts and goals in writing so I just as well share them on my blog.

We often discuss the topic of parenting with our dear friends the Lows. A few weeks ago Dave brought up something that I have really been thinking about. I think it would be worthwhile for us all to think about. Many of the following thoughts and ideas are his, but I think they are worth sharing and pondering.

As Latter Day Saints many of us have goals for our children, for example, we want our sons to serve missions and we want our children to be married in the temple. These might seem like fantastic goals, but when you really take a look at them they are the bare minimum. I don’t just want my boys to serve missions. I want them to be powerful missionaries, and to always be honorable priesthood holders and leaders. I don’t just want my children to be married in the temple (plenty of people get married in the temple, but go on to get divorced or to have unhappy marriages.) I want my children to have Celestial Marriages. I don’t just want my daughters to be mothers. I want them to find joy in motherhood and consider it their greatest blessings and responsibility. So what is my role as their parent to see that these goals become a reality?

President David O. McKay taught:
“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (Family Home Evening Manual 1968–69, p. iii.)

In an awesome talk titled “Parental Leadership in the Family” Elder Oaks taught the following:

“There is no human relationship more suited to such teachings than a family where parents truly love and give their lives in service to their children. Parents should teach the principles of the restored gospel, including particularly the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Parents should also teach the smaller-scale sacrifices they are making for their own families. If done in the right spirit by example as well as by precept—this teaching should help children be more loving and honoring of their parents. It should also help prepare children to be parents themselves.
“Parents teach and families learn by doing things together.
“Families should pray together, kneeling night and morning to offer thanks for blessings and prayers for common concerns.
“Families should worship together, participating in church services and family devotionals.
“Families should study and learn together. This should include group reading and discussion of the scriptures, and group consideration of other valuable subjects, such as the practical knowledge necessary to function in a modern world.
“Families should work together, as suggested earlier. Families should also play together, so that happy recreational experiences are associated with the activities of the family.
“Families should counsel together, treating all matters of concern to the family and its members.
“Families should eat together. Mealtime is a natural time for the family to assemble and communicate: It is a shame for such an opportunity to be lost in family bickering or to be fragmented by family members seizing food and scattering to the four corners as if the family kitchen were a fast food outlet.
“Families should join in recording family traditions and sacred experiences. They should also come together to share such records to strengthen the family and its individual members. As President Kimball reminded us, “Stories of inspiration from our own lives and those of our forebears … are powerful teaching tools,” a source of inspiration for us and our posterity. (Ensign, Jan. 1982, p. 4.)
“It is a striking fact that the family home evening is the ideal time to accomplish almost every type of family togetherness. It is the ideal place for the family to pray together, learn together, counsel together, play together, and even work together. Most of us recognize this, but I wonder how many of us are really using the family home evening to its full potential.”

I will spare you more quotes, but the prophets and apostles have gone on and on about our responsibilities as parents. Our responsibility is not to be taken lightly. I really like this talk because Elder Oaks so plainly outlines what we should be doing to teach our children. I believe if I can dedicate myself as a mother to make sure that those things that he outlines are taking place in my home that my sons will be powerful missionaries, that my children will have celestial marriages, and that my daughters will be joyful mothers. It is going to take more than me living my temple covenants for my children to be exulted. I must be actively engaged in teaching them and directing them.

Another thing I have been thinking about concerning parenting is that of our priorities. What do I want most for my children? Is the way I am spending my time reflect what I want most? I have been taking a look at how I spend my time. For example, Caleb practices the piano at least 20 minutes every day. I sit by his side the entire time. We also work on reading most days. I have to ask myself, “am I as dedicated to teaching him the gospel as I am to teaching him piano.” (Sure the piano will teach him many skills and will be a service to others as he grows.) I guess my point is that if I am dedicated enough to practice the piano every day I should be dedicated enough to be sure that gospel learning is happening too.

Our 5th Sunday combined lesson yesterday was on the topic of parenting. The focus was on checking up on our teenagers, building strong relationships with them, having one-on-one time, being their parent not just their friend, and creating a balance between too strict and too easy. As an ER doctor and a Police Detective from the ward spoke my thought was, “isn’t prevention the best place to start.” Even with all of the prevention in the world I anticipate following up with my kids as teens, knowing their friends, checking their Face Book and text messages, and controlling the hours that they use their cell phones, etc. Even thought I will do that the time to start teaching The Book of Mormon, The Strength of Youth Handbook and Preach My Gospel is RIGHT NOW at ages 5, 3 and six months.

The church has awesome resources on building a strong family. There are all kinds of FHE ideas and ideas on teaching your children. I would start at http://www.lds.org/hf/display/0,16783,4209-1,00.html.

I know that this is a really long and wordy blog entry, but it is fun for me to think about and to talk about. I hope that I can also apply the principles that I believe so strongly. I think it would be fun to have a discussion on the things that are working as we teach our children the gospel.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cara's Birthday

Cara turned 3 on Sunday. She was so excited for her birthday. In her very primitive English she has been telling me "my birthday is coming up" for weeks. We gave her a "big girl" bed. (We got it on Craigs list for $20) and a barbie with a car. She also scored some great Tinker Bell stuff from my mom. The Kirks gave her a darling dress and a stuffed bear. She couldn't have been more happy even though to me it seemed like quite an uneventful birthday.

Blowing out the candles on her "cake" was a problem. She kept blowing her bangs up. Finally the candles went out one at a time.

In preparation for her new bed I took her out of her night time pull-ups a few weeks ago. She was totally potty trained by 18 months, but sense she was in a crib I didn't want to deal with the night time wets. I figured she would have an accident or two with the change. The one accident she had illustrates perfectly the independent child that she is. She didn't even wake me. She got up, changed her cloths, and put a burp cloth over the wet spot in her bed and went back to sleep. She is an amazing little girl.

Now that she is three she will no longer be going to the Up to 3 speech therapy program. She will miss it, and especially her speech therapist Jen. When she began at about 18 months she was not even speaking at all. She is now attempting 3-4 word phrases. She has been tested by the school district and is still considered to have a severe phonological delay. Thankfully she will began the school district program this week. I am grateful for the early intervention programs, and for the service Up to 3 has provided.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Star War’s Party

Caleb turned 5 on Saturday, and he had his very first friend birthday party. The age of the internet has made planning parties so easy. I googled “boys birthday party” and had hundreds of ideas at my fingertips. Caleb wasn’t interested in any theme until we got to the “S’s” and found Star Wars. That was the perfect theme for him, and Josh and I had a blast planning it.

First came the pool noodle light sabers. The awesome thing about these is that you can hit as hard as you want and it doesn’t hurt. They were cheep and easy to make, and they were a fun favor.

The only thing that we put a lot of effort into was the cake. I had planned on making a “Death Star” cake by slapping some gray frosting onto a ball shaped cake and surrounding it with the star fleet stuck into cupcakes. When Josh’s sister April got wind of the idea she stepped in and turned the cake into a masterpiece. I learned so much from working with her on a cake. It turned out really cute and surprisingly delicious. (I am not a cake lover, but it was really good.

Caleb had seven boys from the ward come to the party. They were so cute and we had a great time with them. Following are some of the game ideas that we used. This is defiantly a party theme worth stealing. (We played the Star Wars Sound Track throughout the party, which really added.)

1. Asteroid Hunt: While children arrive decorate a bag with their name and a selection of space stickers. “The basement has been struck by asteroids and we need your help to find them.” Wrap little favors (piece of candy, bouncy ball, and balloon) with tin foil and color code. Each child can have one of each color of asteroid. Set aside in bags as favors.
2. Clone Wars: Skill games for young Padawans and relay races for two teams (The Droids and The Clones) Three Legged Race and Ball and Bucket Toss
3. Jedi Training Course: Obstacle course using ropes, 2X4 boards, etc.
4. Light Saber Training: Using Homemade Light Sabers try to keep balloons in the air. May play in teams, pairs, or as individuals.
5. Thermal Detonator present opening: Pass around the Thermal Detonator (aluminum foil covered ball) while music is playing. When the music stops open the present of whoever was holding the detonator.

I couldn’t resist posting a picture of the invitation. That was Josh’s job, and he is so awesome at details.

I can’t believe that we have a five year old. It was fun to celebrate his birthday in style. His friends gave him awesome gifts, and we got him a “big bike”. His knees almost touch his chest on the bike he has been riding the last couple of years. He is scared of the thought of riding without training wheels so that will take some work, but he was excited about the bike. (I was excited too because we got on Black Friday for only $35.)