I have been plagued with the thought of my dear friends who are getting divorced. They have been married for 20 years and have six kids. They are extremely active in the church. They are one of the last couples I would ever think would be splitting up! He has decided that married life is too hard and he doesn’t want to work at it any more. Pride has gotten in his way and Satin has made him believe that he is better than she is and that his life would be better without his family. WHAT?! This sickening feeling has made me ponder extensively over the past few weeks on how I can protect my family. I have come to a few conclusions.
First, build your marriage. Nature makes me want to focus on raising exceptional kids and supporting them, but I must never loose sight of the core of the family, husband and wife. One of our stake goals this year is for couples to have a weekly date night. I know the Stake President has been questioned about the practicality for young families who have to get a baby sitter, but as the Area Director for LDS Family Services he sees the value and will not compromise the goal of weekly date nights. He is in good company as it has also been preached from the pulpit by general authorities. I think there is a lesson to be learned on building the marriage and taking time away to talk and be together.
I think there is danger in having time consuming hobbies that take a husband or wife out of the home and away from each other. Satin is using every tactic to attack couples so even something like spending time at the gym without each other or hanging out with “the guys” or "the girls" can lead to unfaithful thoughts.
A thought is where it all begins. In the case of my friends the husband repetitively declares that he is “worthy.” So maybe he doesn’t have a girlfriend or do pornography, but he must have romanced the idea that marriage to someone else would be better. He may no be committing a sinful act, but the power of his mind and thoughts has taken over reality. Without the fantasy of a better life he wouldn’t be leaving his family and forsaking eternal blessings. Be careful where your thoughts are taking you!!
Finally, avoid extremes. Doing too much of anything, even reading scriptures or saying prayers to an extreme, is just too much. There are fake “gods” out there. People worship their extra curricular activities, their money, their bodies and many other things. If we take what is good and true to an extreme it can cause one to loose perspective and their testimonies.
Last weekend I went to the American Mothers National Convention. It was held in Salt Lake City. I was inspired by the women of all faiths who are doing everything they can to preserve family values. I ran into an old friend, the friend who introduced me to American Mothers when Caleb was born. She now lives in Texas and is blogging for the San Antonio news paper on behalf of American Mothers about good old family values. I recommend her blog: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/americanmotherssa/. She has blogged about some of the neat things at the conference as well as some of the mothers who were honored. Her blog entries are way better than sharing my notes.
I just finished reading The Parenting Breakthrough by Marrilee Boyack. It was a great book that gave me some new ideas and a good perspective. It was good enough that I read it and then I went back and took four typed pages of notes. Following are just a few of my notes.
Have a plan for teaching kids about money. They need to learn how to manage money and that it doesn’t grow on trees. Our plan:
• Begin allowance at age 5. Pay about $5 monthly. Monthly rather than weekly allows children to buy better things. It makes teaching tithing and saving easer. It teaches them to pace their spending.
• We won’t tie allowance to chores. Chores must be done with or without allowance. Partly this eliminates the tedious work of calculating how much they earn and partly it teaches them that you don’t get paid for everything you do.
• We will prove extra chores that can be done for extra money.
• The kids will be able to choose how and when they spend their money except 10% will be put in long-term savings and 10% will be paid for tithing. If they choose to save additionally for missions or college (long-term savings) the amount that they save, including the initial 10%, will be matched 1:1.
• Around age 12, they can earn money baby sitting or doing “jobs” so allowance will be discontinued, but a clothing budget will be given each year. They will have to manage their clothing budget in order to meet their needs. Budgets will vary based on need.
Avoid creating walls. This is critical with the church. You don’t want a wall to be parent=church. When your children try to rebel against Church things, PULL OUT!. Say, “Well, that is between you and your Heavenly Father, not me. Go pray and talk to him about your decision." We need to not make withdrawing from parents synonymous with withdrawing from the gospel. Create one wall that isn’t huge like hair cut that gives them something to rebel against that isn’t critical, but make it a big deal so they get their felling of getting away with something. Be very careful about other walls you create.
Putting the Gospel in their lives:
• Go beyond the obvious – ask yourself, what will help my child to feel the Spirit? Each child is different. Is it nature, service, music ect.
• Tell them OFTEN of the Saviors love for them.
• Help them create regular spiritual habits.
• Do a lot of service.
• Help them identify when they receive answers to their prayers and to identify their feelings when they fast or pray.
• BEAR TESTIMONY – Add our testimony to whatever we are teaching informally as well as formally.
• Family Home Evening – it deserves our best effort! Focus on the feeling of the FHE not just the content. Consistency is the most important thing.
Idea: (for older children) Each Monday choose a topic for the following week and EVERYONE contributes to the lesson. They could bring a story, personal experience, scripture or something else. The key is that they contribute and that they do something different than they did the previous week.
• Create a Safe Haven – Send the message that in your home your children and their friends are morally and spiritually safe. Be especially careful about what media you allow into your home.