Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Insights on the Family: The Importance of Faith

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith [and] prayer."
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

If faith is an important part of having a successful family, then I think it is important to understand what faith is. In Hebrews 11:1 from the New Testament, faith is described as a "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In the Book of Mormon we read that "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21).

The dictionary version of faith Google gave is that faith is "complete trust or confidence in someone or something."

This definition and the scriptures brought to my memory Indiana Jones. Now I honestly can't remember this movie very well, but I do remember this Jones character had to face a test of faith. He knew there was a bridge crossing a great chasm, and yet the bridge was invisible until he took the first step. Faith is a vision of something you hope for, you hope it is good or real, but it is not something you don't have complete knowledge of. 

There is a correlation between faith and the quality of family life. "Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You show your hope for something that you cannot yet see" (True to the Faith). When a family has hope or beliefs that they are all unified on, this gives the family strength, purpose, and direction.

If you have been reading my blog faithfully, you might remember how I shared a quote from Randall Ridd about the power of having direction in life. The idea was shared that a rower will have no energy to row if he or she doesn't have a destination in mind. When the rower has a destination in mind, they are able to go forward with more vigor. Faith gives us that vigor. We have a view of something we hope for, and faith is the energy that keeps us working toward it.

Our daughter's first trip to go into the temple.
There are three dimensions of faith that are explained in the book I am reading, "Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives," they are religious community, religious practices, and religious beliefs. I can see how these three dimensions have played out in my own life. I have faith that through the covenants my family has made in the temple that we can be sealed as a family forever. That means that when this life is over I will still get to be Clark's wife, I will still get to be my children's mother, I will still get to be my parents' daughter, etc. We can be linked together forever. There will not be a "'til death do us part."

Those are my beliefs, and those beliefs are strengthened as I am active in my religious community. This community also helps to shape and influence my children; teaching them morals and values that will help my children grow into good adults that will have families of their own.

Our son's baptism
We then continue to strengthen our faith and beliefs as we practice our religion. Our lives are influenced for the better as we live our faith. In the marriage and family book it shares how a study found that "highly religious teenagers appear to be doing much better in life than less religious teenagers" (p.190). I believe this is the case because the teenagers have a view of what the purpose of life is. They have a direction to take in life because of their faith.

I hope that my children will continue to see life through eyes of faith, because I know as they turn their hearts toward God they will have the vigor and energy to press forward and make the most of life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Insights on the Family: Extended Family Lending Support--Continued Parenting

Extended families should lend support when needed.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Grandma Siler snuggling with our first little one.
The Proclamation was given in 1995 when I was just a young teenager. Through the years I would read this proclamation or hear it quoted. In this particular quote, that extended families should lend support when needed, I often thought it meant parents  should step in to help their adult children when needs arise. This might come in the form of helping them move, helping with child care, allowing the struggling family to live in their home for a time, checking in on the family through phone calls or other means, and so much more.

I know the parents in my life have done these things for my family as well the families of my siblings and in-laws. I have seen siblings moving in to my parents' home when they were transitioning jobs or homes. I have seen grandparents watching grandchildren when the parents were unable to be home. All these acts of love help strengthen these families and give the aid they need through stressful times.

Grandpa Rowe exploring with our two oldest.
Now that I am older, my family is getting older, my parents are getting older, ... everyone is getting older! I see that there is another side to this statement. In the book I have been referencing in this series of posts on the family, I have learned that the "the probability of living to 65 has doubled." The text shares that in 1900 the average life expectancy was 49 years old, while to day it is 77! That is quite the change. With people living longer, the need for the younger generation to step up and care for their elders has increased.

It is important for us to watch out for our family whether they are young or old. In this video clip the people are serving an elderly man who needs help, this is the kind of love and service we should give to our family as well as in our community. President Ezra Taft Benson said:

"We encourage families to give their elderly parents and grandparents the love, care, and attention they deserve. Let us remember the scriptural command that we must care for those of our own house lest we be found "worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8). ... If they become less able to live independently, then family, Church, and community resources may be needed to help them. When the elderly become unable to care for themselves, even with supplemental aid, care can be provided in the home of a family member when possible" (To The Elderly in the Church).

I am thankful for the love and support extended family has given to me, and I hope that throughout my life I can lend love and support as well. It is "important that family members work together and support each other. Despite the demands of care giving, this labor of love also brings significant blessings" (Chapter 17).

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Insights on the Family: The Importance of Fathers

"Honour thy father and thy mother."
Exodus 20:12

I am very thankful for the fathers and men in my life. I have been blessed with my own good father, a good father-in-law, good brothers (and in-laws), and most of all a good husband. All these men have great influence in not only my life but in the lives of my children.

Clark has taught our children the excitement of exploring.
Through my husband my children have learned so many things. They have learned how to cook, clean, bake, and shop. Seriously, he is better at all these things than me and has done a great job in helping our children learn these skills. He has also helped them learn that life can be fun through the great humor he brings into our home. There is great power and influence in just having a father home and involved in his family's life. His influence and presence brings about security and confidence in the children.

In a book I am reading, "Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives," John Snarey is quoted as saying, "Good fathering, it seems, really does matter. It matters over a long time, over a lifetime, and even over generations" (pg. 141). He says this because there is so much opposition that has come in the face of fathers, questioning whether the presence of a father really matters. This same book shares that fatherhood is generative work.  This means that fathers teach through "caring activities that nurture relationships, foster growth, and enable the transmission of values between generations."

My own father has been a great example to me of doing generative work. As his children grew to adulthood and left home, he started sending out a weekly emails to them (and eventually to spouses and grandchildren as they entered the scene). He has passed on his faith and testimony, he has taught us values and history, and he has helped keep the family connected to each other. He has been an example of working hard as well as continued learning through reading and study. He has made himself available to his children and grandchildren through being present and listening to them. There have been many times (sometimes multiple times a week) where I will turn to my dad to ask him questions and share what is going on in my life--and he listens and responds with love and patience. This nonjudgmental love and concern for me and for my family has given us something more powerful than anything that could be bought. He has passed onto us something that is spiritual, something that will bless our family for generations--just as his own father did.

My book concludes with quoting President James E. Faust's "observation that the bonds of parents and children are revealed 'in family relationships, in attributes and virtues developed in a nurturing environment, and in loving service.' [The text then summarizes that] As fathers practice these essential principles [of being a spiritual leader, partnering with his wife and others in the child's life, being present, providing and protecting] in their lives and relationships, they fulfill their own potential and guide the rising generation toward achieving the divine potential that resides in each of us as 'a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.'"

The importance of fathers in the lives of their families cannot be measured. I know my family and my own life would not be the same without these men in my life. Their influence, example, and power they bring with them has great shaping abilities that make my children and me the people we are. This influence goes on for generations.

Let the fathers in your life know how much you loved them and appreciate them. Not just on Father's Day, but always.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Insights on the Family: What Motherhood Means to Me

“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).  
Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Holding my first little one.

While growing up I kept a little journal that took me through all my school years. In this journal I listed who my best friends were, what I liked to do, and what I wanted to be when I grew up. From preschool through twelfth grade there was a pretty consistent vision of what I wanted to be when I grew up, except during those early years when I said that I wanted to be a bird or a ballerina.

My ultimate goal was to be a mother. I loved how my mom was always there for me; she was and is a great friend. She has taught me so much through the way she lives. I want to be just like her.

Since we never know when we will get married, or if we will be able to have children, I made intermediate goals to live my life and get an education. In my situation marriage came earlier than later and so I was able to start my family young.

Even though I have always wanted to be a mother, it is the hardest work I have ever done. There are many voices in the world that devalue motherhood, or say that it is harmful and oppressive to  women. President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord's spirit children, and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments."
(March 1976)

Motherhood is so much more than just childcare. Elder Robert D. Hales taught that women shouldn't let "the world define, denigrate, or limit" them in their pursuit of learning and motherhood. He then went on to say that "motherhood is the ideal opportunity for lifelong learning. A mother's learning grows as she nurtures [her children]" (The Journey of Lifelong Learning). This learning comes through all the stages and in all areas of knowledge, whether it be math and science or health care and language arts.

While serving a mission for the church in Kagoshima, Japan, she continued inviting people to join her at the church for exercise.
My own mother has been a great example of lifelong learning. From the time I was very little I remember her teaching exercise classes for fun! She mainly did it at our nearby church building where she would invite anyone who wanted to join her. This was not only a great way to stay healthy, but a great way to help others as well, AND she did it for free. In this goal she has become very knowledgeable in health and wellness. She continues to teach, and I am sure she will continue to do it into eternity. Through this endeavor she has taught her children the importance of taking care of our bodies.

Our garden and yard that we love experimenting with.
In my own life I feel I have learned so much as a mother. With my children I have learned about plants and animals around us. I have loved learning and identifying these creations. Then our family has learned about the different plants we can grow that will produce food for us to eat. It has been so much fun, and also very educational.

Family life really is a laboratory for learning and growth, and as a mother I get to be in the middle of it learning, teaching, and growing too. President Thomas S. Monson said:

As I strive to be the best mother I can be, I feel myself drawing closer to God. As I draw closer to God, I am enabled to be a better mother.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Insights on the Family: Parenting with Love

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live."

-The Family: A Proclamation to the World

In this video clip, Elder Neil L. Anderson quoted a mother's blog that Parenthood is "not something you can do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave you time for."

In my own experience, motherhood has been the most fulfilling job I could ever have done. That isn't to say that I haven't had bad days where I wonder how I am going to survive being a parent, but it means that having my children has deepened my sense of what love is, what sacrifice means, and what real joy means. It is almost like the struggles and tired days make the good times all the sweeter.

Having children exposes you to your fears and weaknesses. You worry about your children. You worry whether you are doing well as a parent. You worry for their safety when they are not with you. You worry what they are being exposed to in the world that will taint the brightness in their eyes.

In my searching for ideas and tips on how to take care of my children and help them in the path of life, I found these tools from on parenting:
  • Listen tirelessly, and speak openly
  • Don't neglect your child's spiritual side
  • Teach your children how to behave
  • Let children solve their own problems
  • Show love, no matter what
Each topic goes into more detail on the the website, but I felt that these points are very powerful. We often want to let our children have fun and live life free of sorrow. Yet we know that if we allow our children to learn to work through their own problems and receive consequences for poor actions, they will be better people in the future. On top of it all we must always love them.

In chapter ten of Successful Marriages and Families, Craig H. Hart and colleagues share that parenting needs to have "Love, Limits, and Latitude." They have a similar list to the previous one I shared, children need:
  • Love, warmth, and support
  • Clear, reasonable expectations for behavior
  • Limits/Boundaries that leave room for negotiation
  • Appropriate consequences for breaching limits
  • Opportunities to competently make choices
  • Absence of coercive, hostile, harsh discipline and punishments, and no shaming, love with-drawal, or infliction of guilt.
  • Model appropriate behavior of self-control, positive values and attitudes.
As we practice these tools in our families, our children will grow with confidence that they are loved and understand that in life we have to live within boundaries to succeed. Hart and colleagues share that "one of the most powerful tools that parents have in teaching positive values to their children is their religious faith. ... In short, religious practices and traditions create conditions that engender greater moral maturity." This teaching helps young people to see beyond themselves and have eyes that are open to what they can do to help others.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood. Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, none other is so serious. To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges. The good result from such efforts becomes life's most satisfying compensation.

We are never happier than when we are serving others.
Even after serving all day to clean-up after a hurricane.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Insights on the Family: Marriage--An Equal Partnership

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
-The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Research has shown that marriage is the healthiest way to find happiness. In Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, Alan J. Hawkins and Elizabeth VanBerghe share evidence that marriage benefits far outweigh any other life-style. They share that "married people are generally happier, ... with greater life satisfaction, lower risk for depression, and greater economic stability, all contributing to better mental health."

South African couple found happiness in their marriage.
 (pic courtesy of
Critics might share information on all the dysfunctional families and marriages, and the high number of divorces, as well as the high number of people being treated for mental health problems. We can't deny that life has its troubles, but we also can deny that there have been many studies that show benefits of being married. Here are a few that Hawkins and VanGerghe share:
  • Marital status at 48 strongly predicts chances of surviving to ages 65.
  • Divorced men experience health risks akin to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
  • Divorced women risk of dying prematurely decreases with the duration of her marriage.
  • Young people that married immediately have reduced depressive symptoms and higher life satisfaction.
  • Men have lower panic disorders.
  • Women have lower substance abuse.
  • Both have higher levels of social integration and emotional support.
  • Married people are generally better off financially.
  • Well satisfied with their physical relationship.
John Gottman, a very influential marriage researcher, shares that real romance is "fueled by a humdrum approach to staying connected." What Gottman means is that when couples connect with each other in the day to day tasks of life in a caring a positive way, their love deepens for one another.

In this little video clip, we glimpse into the lives of the Puentes family. We can see that love has deepened and grown for them not from some extravagant trip or gift, but from the fact that they are making a simple dinner together. Both the husband and wife work together to prepare and cook a meal. This positive experience is over-flowing into the lives of their children creating a very strong and happy home.

Valerie Hudson and Richar Miller wrote about Equal Partnership Between Men and Women in Families in chapter 4 of Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. They said that research shows that having an equal partnership leads to "happier relationships, better individual well-being, more effective parenting practices, and better-functioning children." An important reason for all these benefits, Husdson and Miller state, is because having greater satisfaction leads to "less negative interactions and more positive interactions."

In my reading and learning I have come to see that marriage is the best institution on earth. I can see in my own life how much I have benefited from having my amazing husband. He has been such a support to me in all the things I have endeavored to do. Together we have had fun adventures as well as hard times. When we do it together the experience is so powerful in building our relationship and our family.

Marriage is a divine institution, and it is the way God wants our families to be created. If we follow this knowledge and command I know that our lives can be blessed. Husband and wives should work together as equal partners in caring for each other and for their children. The marital relationship can only be a happy healthy one when we treat our spouse with love and respect.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Insights on the Family: The Purpose of Life--The Plan of Happiness

"Why am I here?" "What is my purpose?" "Where do I go when I die?"

These are all questions we ask ourselves at some point in our lives, and this leads us to find a reason for living. There needs to be a purpose or a drive that gets us to choose a direction and go.

Randall L. Ridd shared an example of how having a purpose gives us motivation in a worldwide devotional to youth. He said:

"Imagine for a moment you are in a lifeboat on the ocean, with nothing but rolling waves in every direction, as far as the eye can see. The boat is equipped with oars, but which direction would you row? Now imagine you’ve caught a glimpse of land. Now you know the direction you must go. Does seeing land give you both motivation and purpose? People who don’t maintain a clear sense of purpose are drifters. Drifters allow the tides of the world to decide where they are going" (Living with Purpose: The Importance of "Real Intent").

In this analogy, just being able to see a destination gives the rower motivation and energy to go forward. With no destination in sight or in mind, there is no reason to push to go somewhere. That is the power of knowing where you are going.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe there is a purpose, or a plan for why we are here and a goal of where we want to be. We call this the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness. Why is it referred to the plan of happiness when we have so many trials in life? We know that if we stick to the plan, we can obtain life with God (which sounds like a happy place to me).

Here is a video that take you through what the plan is:

Understanding who we are and what we can become gives us the motivation to make the best of our life. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we learn that God sent us to earth to live in families. It is only through cultivating strong marriages and families that we can be the happiest in this life.

Click here to see the document
Daniel K Judd concluded in his article, The Eternal Family: A Plain and Precious Part of the Plan of Salvation:

 "God and His plan are eternal. He instituted marriage and family in the beginning. God created the earth, the garden, and our first parents in order to create families for all of His children to be born into and experience mortal life--especially mortal family life. The Fall occurred because Adam and Eve chose to obey God's commandment to multiply and  replenish the earth and thus create the first family. The Savior completed the Atonement in order to reconcile God's children with the Father and with one another. Thus, The great plan of happiness is God's plan for happiness in time and in eternity."

To learn more about this plan, you can read about it here:

Plan of Salvation