Monday, July 20, 2015

Divorce and Blending Families

First off, I want to speak to those dating in order to help with the prevention of divorce.

DATING BEFORE MARRIAGE 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "I speak briefly to those contemplating marriage. The best way to avoid divorce from an unfaithful, abusive, or unsupportive spouse is to avoid marriage to such a person. If you wish to marry well, inquire well. Associations through “hanging out” or exchanging information on the Internet are not a sufficient basis for marriage. There should be dating, followed by careful and thoughtful and thorough courtship. There should be ample opportunities to experience the prospective spouse’s behavior in a variety of circumstances. Fianc├ęs should learn everything they can about the families with whom they will soon be joined in marriage. In all of this, we should realize that a good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection." 

Date differently and we will marry differently. Many are just looking for an attractive, exciting individual to spend time with. Girls who aren’t feeling confident will turn to guys that are outgoing and the nice guys are not always the outgoing guys. Those are the guys that are usually not putting themselves out there very quickly. We can be afraid of getting to know people, and so we date someone that shows immediate interest. But, we really need someone that will be a good parent and love their children. Look for someone that will be a great spouse. We aren’t just looking for a great boyfriend or girlfriend; we are looking for a good father or mother, a good husband or wife. Focus on interests, opinions, similarities, differences, goals.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage … means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.”

People tend to think that marriage is either you’re really happy or miserable. They think that we either have to stay and suffer or leave. Often times, we can change the interactions we have with our spouse. Marriage isn’t easy. It takes constant effort, prayer, and understanding. Marriage is hard work. 

Most people don’t work that hard during courtship. We work hard on the basketball court and the court in law, but many people just think about dating and things come together like jello, instead of intentionally coming together. We cannot just bank on instinct to tell us what to do. It may work for animals, but not for us.

There is no reason for a couple to be dating exclusively unless they are heading towards marriage.

The biggest bodies and the ones that are closest to us generally have the tightest, strongest tug.
Marriages can have huge rifts if we do not discuss the important expectations. We need to have those conversations. We need to discover if our goals are compatible. Many imagine that they will marry someone and that person will just be adopted into their family; they assume their family system won’t change. Our family systems will change. 

Proper boundaries protect marriages from pain that can come. Nudge parents, family, and friends from that circle as we build our relationship with our spouses by the time we are engaged. Whatever bad things we say about our marriage partner, those that love us will remember. Generally close friends and family will be better indicators of our marital success than ourselves. They can see the interactions between us. They don’t care about how good he is at kissing; they care about something much more important. They care about us.

There was a marital satisfaction scale that was studied and shared among a vast amount of researchers and they found that the ones that completed at the lowest point and were unsatisfactory, 70 percent 5 years later were able to achieve a much higher degree of satisfaction. 

If married couples are coming to us and telling us of their marital issues, it is important for us to turn them towards themselves. It is a difficult and important thing to talk about. “Oh my goodness that sounds so difficult. Sounds like you both have some things to talk about.” If we think of the father walking down his daughter down the aisle, he is handing her off to her husband. Conflict is between the couple. Many people think that a family facing conflict need to have the family separate in counseling when in fact there are many instances where that family needs to come together. Separate counseling can surely cause rifts. Big improvements in family functioning can happen when the family works together to improve.

DIVORCE 

There are different stages of divorce that people may undergo:
1. Emotional divorce. We emotionally separate ourselves from them. We do not feel as inclined to be concerned with the other individual’s feelings.
2. Legal divorce. Generally, legal fees may average 25,000 dollars. In the next 5 years it generally costs 100,000 dollars. This involves child support, additional housing, etc. it rapidly turns into a tremendous amount of money. In the past, someone needed to violate the most sacred covenants in order to divorce: abuse, substance abuse, adultery, and neglect. They are also referred to as the three a’s: alcohol, adultery, and abuse. California was the first state to create the no-fault divorce where individuals could just divorce if they wanted to. The divorce rate tripled immediately in California. 
3. Economic divorce. This means there is an economic separation of resources for the divorce to be completed. Idaho and California and several other states are joint property states; the property and debt belongs equally to both parties. For example, if one of the parties had a million dollars in a bank account, it belongs to both individuals. This all differs from state to state.
4. Community divorce. When individuals end friendships and make new ones. They may need to divide their friends. People become divided.
Co-parental. The couple decides who will have what responsibilities with the children.
5. Psychic divorce. The individuals distance themselves from the relationship and learn to be whole again without their companion.

There are often times unintended consequences of good intentions. This is so messy and so very difficult. There are many complexities that come with divorce. What happens economically to the average family when we the father is removed and we are left with only a mom and kids? They generally take a dip downward and meet poverty criteria. The reality is, no one wins out of this.

However, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his talk Divorce, "I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache. A broad-based international study of the levels of happiness before and after “major life events” found that, on average, persons are far more successful in recovering their level of happiness after the death of a spouse than after a divorce. Spouses who hope that divorce will resolve conflicts often find that it aggravates them, since the complexities that follow divorce—especially where there are children—generate new conflicts. Think first of the children." 

 If we date wisely, thoughtfully, and carefully many of these issues can be prevented; however, it is not possible for all couples to stay together. Not everyone should stay married to whomever. Often times we come up with stereotypical ideas of how things happen. It’s important to be sensitive to the wide range of experiences individuals have. Sometimes, working towards a happy marriage isn't possible for very serious reasons. It is not our place to judge. 

WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN IN DIVORCE?

Researchers have looked at what happens when the family is dissolved. The average distance the father lives from the children when the kids are from ages 12-15 is 400 miles. Often this is because that is where the fathers can find work. The mother may look for support in her family and the father will travel where he can find income. Sometimes the father thinks that the children don’t need him there. Very rapidly, even when no one had the intention to take children from parents, that tends to be what happens. The children lose daily access to both parents.

Some studies show that having children travel back to back causes feelings of instability to occur in the lives of children. They travel from different sets of expectations, rules, etc. and children are remarkably adaptable, so often times they will change who they are depending on which parent they are with. There have been many studies performed on children that come from divorce. Now, this is a general statistic; however, this does not by any means that this applies to everyone. Kids who come from divorced parents are more likely to get involved in drugs and less likely to go to college. Even if there wasn't a lot of conflict at home, those young adults that come from divorce generally have much less confidence in their ability to create a good marriage. They end up suffering in many ways that weren’t predicted. Many times people think short term, not long term. The children that fared the worst tended to be the ones whose parents divorced nicely.

Many children think they are responsible for their parents divorce. Studies have shown the younger the child is when the parent’s divorce, the child is more likely to blame themselves. People imagine that if a marriage is bad, it is the partner; however, it is important to look at what’s happening. How can we create a new marriage? What things, tenancies, and habits need to die?

There has been research that shows that children that have parents who divorce have initial anger, fears about the future, blame, and loyalty conflicts. They have more emotional and physical problems. They generally have fewer friends, are less social, have lower self-esteem, are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. They are more likely to have eating issues and disorders, receive less maternal comfort and compassion. They generally also have more absences at school, lower popularity, lower IQ scores, and more behavior issues than children that come from intact homes. Adolescents that come from a divorced family generally have worse academic ratings, are more antisocial, more negative towards marriage, and have greater chances of substance abuse. Many times children are the messengers between divorced parents and it should not be that way. What goes on between the parents should go on between the parents. 

Custody of children. There are two aspects of custody. There is physical custody, which is where the children live and there is legal custody, which explains who has the authority to change the child's schools, take them to a doctor, have an operation, etc. From state to state, they handle things differently. The best custody for children is for mom and dad to stay married happily. That is the only gold standard for what’s good.

Two years after the divorce, 70% of couples say they could have and should have saved the marriage.
70 percent of men are remarried 2 years after the divorce. Many emphasize the areas we disagree with instead of looking at what they agree on. Most individuals don’t understand how to save a marriage.

As we begin to think about the family systems we are creating and understanding the ways we learn about rules and communicating within families and capture and hold onto them, they will have opportunities for intervention and changing things. Apply them to what matters most. Understanding family systems is important. Everything we do impacts every other individual in the system. It makes it easier to predict outcomes. Broken families have many complications; blended families have even more complications.

25 percent of individuals divorce and generally 75 percent of married couples will stay.

Separation is practice divorce the way cohabitation is practice marriage. People say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it actually makes the individuals get used to being apart. It is important to focus on building something different. Many say, “We are just going to work on ourselves and become a better couple…” but to become a better couple, it is important to work on becoming just that – a better couple. Together.

There are four steps to divorce:
First is recognition. This happens when one or more of the spouses feels there is a problem. Often times the problem involves lack of emotional support, lack of responsibility, or controlling behavior. Often times, one of the spouses believe that the other has changed, when in reality, it is their perception of their significant other that has changed.
Second, is discussion. This is when marital problems are shared among each other, relatives, friends, or other individuals.
Third is action. Separation happens and they are considering divorce. Lawyers are called.
Fourthly, there comes post-dissolution. Both spouses understand and accept that the marriage is over.
There are many different causes and correlates of divorce. Socioeconomic status is an indicator of
divorce; those that have a higher status generally have more education and higher income and therefore have marriages that are more likely to last than those of a lower socioeconomic status.
Another factor is the age at which individuals get married. The younger people are when they get married, the higher their chances are of divorce. Social integration also has part in divorce rates. Those that are within an integrated group have a lower chance of divorce. Those that are religious are less likely to have their marriages end in divorce. The number of non-divorced individuals that a person knows is likely to reduce the chances of divorce of that person. Also, the amount of friends and memberships that the person has is also a positive reinforcement for a lasting marriage. Changed feelings and perspectives can cause two individuals to move towards divorce. Emotional problems can also lead to divorce. Those that have deeper emotional problems cause their marriages to have a higher chance of deterioration.

Some positive effects of divorce can be personal growth, optimism, spiritual comfort, and improved
communication and conflict skills. Divorce also comes with negative consequences as well. Health problems – physical and emotional – can last for decades. Those that divorce have higher rates of suicides, accidents, alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. They also generally have less confidence in relationships and are more unhappy. Men tend to express sadness through their behaviors after a divorce later than the women, are more saddened by thinking of home and the children.

Generally, negative feelings that come from a divorce will last two to four years, but if the person doesn’t handle it well, then the problems can go on for a lifetime. Divorced individuals are generally more disorganized and have a harder time meeting the demands of being parents. Other research claims that individuals that are divorced will lean upon their children for support, which causes their children to be the parents of their parents.

Step family, blended family, remarried family, reconstituted family. We are talking about new and developed families. There are differences in tasks and challenges between intact biological families, as opposed to a blended family. When remarrying, the first year is accommodating and getting used to each other. Holidays can be a big deal. It drastically changes what the children are experiencing day to day. Even if changes are ideal and they are positive, they are still difficult. Generally, when a couple is creating new rules and how they interact, the consequences are greater, the choices are fewer. There are different stages in the development of the family. Whether it happens in divorce or intent, it can cause us to feel like the integrity has been challenged. Things are very complex with family. About 60% of American children do or are expected to be in a family with more than just their two biological parents, whether it’s remarried or cohabiting parents.

Be accepting and understanding of those that are in blended families. It’s important to understand the dynamics and challenges associated with that. When we can understand and see these concepts of boundaries, it can make an enormous impact.

Three suggested guidelines for blended families:
1.      Understand that it is always going to take a minimum of two years to reach a sense of normalcy.
2.      The birth parent should do all of the heavy discipline. If the other parent it can make complications arise with the birth parent and child.
3.      The step parent should be like the equivalent of a really fantastic aunt or uncle.
4.      The new couple needs to spend the most time conferencing with one another more than anyone else. They need to discuss their feelings and thoughts behind closed doors.

Each family is different. Be compassionate. Be educated. Be loving.

Just a thought. 

Suggetions:
"Helping the Remarried Family" By Brown Sayer

https://byui.brainhoney.com/Component/ActivityPlayer?courseid=15044114&enrollmentid=27000241&itemid=6EFF5587A348470795F0D706AE50B1A7

https://byui.brainhoney.com/Component/ActivityPlayer?courseid=15044114&enrollmentid=27000241&itemid=6EFF5587A348470795F0D706AE50B1A7


Friday, July 10, 2015

Parenting

Why is the model of parenting two young and relatively inexperienced adults assigned to care for the most vulnerable?

Think about it. What have you learned from your role in the lives of children? This is addressed to all people, whether you are a biological parent or just someone who has influenced the life of a child. 

There are so many answers to this question and the answers that are offered will often be unique to the individual. We each take different lessons from parenting. One reason for this parenting model is change. How are we supposed to change, to grow, to develop, to become like God if we are not creating life and nurturing it, like He does? How can we be expected to reach our full capacity if we are not placed in situations where that capacity can be reached? Parenting forces us to mature. It changes our views and our perspectives. It teaches us to become more like Christ; we are taught patience, diligence, selflessness.

It brings us closer to heaven. It helps us understand God and relate to God in a greater abundance. We see and love differently. It causes us to humble ourselves and recognize that we need our Heavenly Father.

I remember my father telling me that in the beginning of my parent's marriage, there was no other time he felt a greater love for my mother than when she gave birth to me. That statement has stuck with me for the rest of my life.

Even though we may be incomplete ourselves, there is something about having these differences as spouses that serves us well. There is something about the process of parenting that suggests it is more beneficial to the parents than the children. For example, young adults are going to school and focusing on themselves when suddenly having a child places correct priorities in place. As we are growing and learning and adapting to parenthood, the children are able to see that we are human and that we are growing, too. We are able to develop side by side. We teach our children as they teach us. When children are involved it often times opens us to a new view.

Children can also reflect our weaknesses. They see us. As we are setting an example, they show us in their own actions what they see us show them. It helps us see ourselves honestly. We would be wise to recognize that our children are observing us constantly. What they see us do, they will reflect. Be cautious and aware of the example we are setting for our children; it holds a greater importance and influence than we may think. They are always watching and listening. We must make sure that how we live is how we want them to live as well. 

We are to become as little children, so to see children so pure and innocent show us what we are to be. What an example our little ones can be to us.

However, children are not all sunshine and rainbows. We know this. They cry, they smell, they need so much and solely rely on our care, they are time consuming, they are physically and emotionally exhausting.. And yet, there is no greater work. There is nothing that can bring more sorrow or joy than our children.

What are the purposes of parenting? “It is to protect and prepare children to survive and thrive in the world in which they will live.” – Michael Popkem

There are three different parenting types. 

1. First is authoritarian parenting where the parent acts as a dictator. They make all of the decisions and stand in charge of the children. Often times they are manipulative. For example, the mother in Tangled. She can withdraw love and support if the child isn’t performing well. They want their children to obey without question. 

2. The second type of parenting is permissive. This is the parenting style where the parents allow their children to do whatever they want. The parent lacks strength or initiative or structure. So often parents want their children to like them and they want to be friends with their children that they give their children anything, regardless of the consequences that arise. The parent may strive to gain their children's acceptance and approval and fulfill their own emotional needs. They think, “How am I feeling?” It is important to recognize the long-term consequences.

3. The third type of parenting is authoritative parenting. In this style the parents place boundaries. This relationship is give and take; the parents and child work together to fulfill both needs. 

If you want to discover your own parenting style, you can go to: 

Choice is an enormous issue with regards to parenting. God lets us exercise agency and we too should allow our to exercise their own. It can be beneficial for us to give them choices and allow them to see the connection between the action and the consequence. There is something powerful that can come from natural consequences. For example, when children begin to walk and continue to fall, they can see the consequence of falling. Children love to be learning and always doing things; that is their very nature.

How important it is that we show our children we make wise decisions and always have their best interest at heart. We must show and tell them that we love them.

Now, we know that families have differences. Teenagers and parents do not always get along. Because children have minds that are still developing during their adolescents, they are not fully, psychologically matured. Problems will arise. Our kids will be rude, disobedient, and stubborn. They will make mistakes. We will have conflict; that is apart of life. Luckily, wise and educated individuals have formed different ways that we can enhance our abilities to deal with these complications when they are presented.  

There is a problem-handling model that has been created by Michael H. Popkins, Ph.D.

Ask: who owns the problem? Not who is responsible, but who is most affected by it and who wants this behavior to change? The parent, the child, or shared?

The Problem-Handling Model

If the parent owns the problem, then it is important to do these things in this order:

1. Make polite requests. Do not ever underestimate the power in polite requests. Before anything else it is good to make polite requests. It shows respect and gives them the opportunity to make their own decision. We teach people to be respectful by being respectful of them. 

2. If the child does not listen or heed the polite request made, then it is important for the parent to then use the “I” statement. The pattern is: “When you __ I feel __ because __. I would like __. For example, “When you leave your belongings all over the floor I feel taken advantage of because I need to take care of it myself. I would like if you would pick up after yourself.” Through this, we are teaching our children something about feelings. It helps us teach them without being unkind or mean.

3. If the problem persists, then we may go to a stronger message. Sometimes we need to be firm in sending important messages with strong things. If we send strong messages constantly they feel attacked and lose respect. It loses power.

We want to let natural consequences teach as much as possible. Children learn from that feedback. If the child owns the problem, then let the natural consequences be the teachers. The lessons tend to last longer. However, there are a few exceptions, which are:

1.  It’s too dangerous to let natural consequences take place. For example, letting our 10 year old children ride a plastic bike down a hill where it’s close to a highway. We can say no. the natural consequence of letting a 12 year old ride a car or your teenager engage in substance abuse is too dangerous.

2. When the consequences are too far in the future. For example, allowing our children at 14 to stop going to school because their son doesn’t want to, thinking

3. When others are affected in a negative way. For example, the natural consequence of shoplifting is that we gain free things and take from the store.

If none of these options (polite requests, “I” statement, stronger statement, natural consequences) work, then it is time for us to use logical consequences.

When using logical consequences it is important to make sure these planned in advance; both people need to understand what is being done. Otherwise, it is just a punishment. The contract needs to be in an “If, then” or “when, then” pattern. Involve the child or teen instead of saying, “I’m frustrated. This is what I will do.” Ask, “What do you think should be the consequence?” When you ask little children that, often times they will suggest an extreme option because they are so hard on themselves. This pattern of the contract is good because it allows us to join with our children as a team. We are working together. Make sure it is a short time and then they can try again. Short consequence, then let them try again. Teach, don’t punish. Always be willing to follow through and then try again.

Punishments and rewards are used by superiors to control inferiors. When we feel controlled some tendencies may be crumbling and giving up or rebelling. Popkin has said, “The paradox of control is that the more we try to control our children, the less we are able to influence our children for good.”

A lot of parents try to use rewards, but there is a problem with that. When parents give children a reward for something the child should have already done, it is insulting. It’s demeaning. When we reward someone for something, it also makes them dependent upon us. When we consistently do for others what they do for themselves, they not only become dependent on us, but also resent us.

Disciplining... 
A bad example would be, “If you leave your stuff in the room, I will take away your phone.” That does not make sense because the behavior change and consequence are not connected. Another bad example of consequences would be, “If you leave your stuff in the room, you need to clean the room for a month.” It’s too long and the parents didn’t decide this together.”

A good example would be, "When you leave your stuff all over the room, I feel taken advantage of because I need to put it all away. I would really appreciate it if you would put your stuff away when you are finished using it. If you don't put your stuff away, what do you think would be a good consequence?" Then together with our child, we can come to a proper and agreed upon consequence. 

Now, we know that children will fight. If we want to help our kids to work together, we want to stay out of it and allow them take care of things, unless it has become so serious it is violating a family rule. If it is violating a family rule, then both children receive consequences.

Most parents think, “It didn’t work when I tried it the first time.” It may take 10-15 times before children realize they need to work together.

Be encouraging. Instead of catching children being bad, why not catch them being good? Rather than focusing on when children are not doing things successfully, let’s focus on what they are doing correctly. Big emphasis on encouragement. If we often say how incredibly well they did something, it really affects the children. For example, “I really saw how willing you were to come help me with the dishes. Thank you. That meant a lot to me.” Notice effort towards a goal. Encourage in every opportunity.

Many parents threaten, humiliate, and try to control children. If immediate compliance is our goal, we are wrong. If it is about teaching and helping, that is a very different thing.

Have you ever noticed how often times you may be trying to do something good and you can feel God’s spirit come down and let you know that he is proud of you and that you are on the right track? 

The real, only, greatest way we have to influence someone, especially our children, is our relationship with them. We want to avoid being threatening, controlling, or manipulative. There are beautiful examples of parents dealing with rebellious children in The Book of Mormon. Some of the worst children ever become exceptional people.

Make the emphasis on love. These approaches work beautifully well. They won’t solve everything, but they can really be helpful and meet needs that our children have. 

All people are respond to universal needs. 

There is a real need for contact and belonging. This is a huge deal. Failure to thrive syndrome occurs in children who are only contacted by their parents who change diapers or feed them. Children need contact. Don’t ever underestimate the significance of touch. There was a hospital where half of the building there were children dying and in the other half of the building children were living. Researchers were trying to discover what was happening. They looked at cleanliness. Then they looked at the nurses. They discovered that in the section of the hospital where the children were living there was a janitor who would go around and rock each child, whispering kind words. She claimed that no one else would do that, so she did. Make physical contact, eye contact, and conversation. Everyone needs to feel like they belong and contribute in some way.
If a child is acting out, people generally avoid them; however, that is the very opposite of what that child needs. They are just craving attention.

Popkem has pointed out something valuable - the basic five needs we all have. Now, we as parents are not necessarily meeting the children’s needs; we are teaching them how to meet their own needs. We are preparing them to do it appropriately out there in the world.

Parents, children have needs:
1.      Contact and belonging
2.      Power
3.      Protection (from psychological, physical harm)
4.      Challenge
5.      Withdrawal

To meet those needs, parents:
1. Offer contact freely. Offer contact freely that is well received and appropriate. Teach children to contribute in order for them to feel that belonging. This cannot be through lectures. Have them help with chores. If they do not contribute, it can make people feel inferior and not helpful.This is helping the children feel wanted and that they belong. We all need to be needed.

      2. Allow them to have responsibility. For power, children need to have an influence on the environment. When we feel powerless, then we do two things. One option is rebellion. It is a mistaken approach to become powerful. The problem with rebellion is, we cannot get enough rebellion to make us feel great. The second option is controlling others. The problem with this is, we cannot get enough control over others to meet the need of power. We need to give them: Response-Ability. We need to help them develop response and ability. Give children the ability to respond to challenges and opportunities around them. Give children choices – situation and age-appropriate choices. It isn’t enough to give people choices; we must then let them experience the consequences of those choices. 

      3. To help them deal with protection: First, teach assertiveness. This is being able to say, “You cannot do this to me,” or “That wasn’t fair.” If children say, “Dad that isn’t fair.” Then we ask, “What are you thinking?” and then the child will explain and we can say, “I see that. I see you’re feeling. What can we do about this?” Allow children to practice assertiveness. You cannot teach a kid to be so assertive that they wont be hurt again. Everyone hurts. The second thing to teach our children is forgiveness. When children forgive or try to forgive, we must forgive them and encourage it.

      4. Children need skill development. We love to master things. We have a need for challenge. Offer opportunities where they can do this. 

      5. We have the need to take a break, to take a proper break and then go back to hard things. Children who grow up in homes where the parents are working hard and see their parents take a break. For example, working in the garden and then the parent saying, “Hey lets get a Popsicle.” And then going back to work, it is a good example.

When people don’t get their contact needs met, they tend toward a mistaken approach, to undue attention speaking.

You can never get enough of what you don’t need because what you don’t need doesn’t satisfy you. 

Mistaken approaches:
1.      Undue attention seeking
2.      Rebellion/control others (rebel against things that would have met their needs)
3.      Revenge
4.      Risk-taking
5.      Undue avoidance

As we are aware of our parenting methods, as we are aware of our children's needs and strive to meet those needs, we will be better equipped to positively influence the lives of our children and help them develop into who they can become. We do not need to do this alone, either. We have our dear Heavenly Father and Mother. 

There is a connection with Heavenly parents and Earthly parents. The only person who loves our children more than us is our Heavenly Parents.

Just a thought. 


Additional Information: 
“Parenting with Love: Making a Difference in a Day” Glenn L. Latham
http://ldsmag.com/article-1-11837/
Activeparenting.com 
http://ldsmag.com/article-1-12433/

Parenting videos: (Warning: A little cheesy, but some good principles.) 
Session 1: The Active Parent: http://stream.byui.edu/VideoPlayer/BYUIplayer.html?StartCue=12&EndCue=1997&VideoName=1560_dvd&VideoType=libraryvideos

Session 2: Winning Cooperation: http://stream.byui.edu/VideoPlayer/BYUIplayer.html?StartCue=0&EndCue=1643&VideoName=1561_dvd&VideoType=libraryvideos

Session 3: Responsibility and Discipline: http://stream.byui.edu/VideoPlayer/BYUIplayer.html?StartCue=6&EndCue=1754&VideoName=1562_dvd&VideoType=libraryvideos

Session 4: Building Courage, Redirecting Misbehaviorhttp://stream.byui.edu/VideoPlayer/BYUIplayer.html?StartCue=12&EndCue=2096&VideoName=1563_dvd&VideoType=libraryvideos

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Finances and Parents

The American Bar Association has shown that 89% of all divorces are generally tied back to arguments and accusations over finances. Other associations have estimated that 75% of all divorces occur because of differences over money. Some professional counselors explain that four out of five families are suffering because of real and difficult financial issues.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton has said, “Financial peace of mind is not determined by how much we make, but is dependent upon how much we spend…
Married couples show genuine maturity when they think of their partner’s and their family’s needs ahead of their own spending impulses.”

Elder Ashton has recommended twelve ways in which we can improve personal and family financial management:

First, pay an honest tithe.

Second, learn to manage money before it manages you.

Third, learn that self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters.

Fourth, use a budget.

Fifth, teach family members early the importance of working and earning.

Sixth, teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend.

Seventh, teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare.

Eighth, make education a continuing process.

Ninth, work toward home ownership.

Tenth, appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program.

Eleventh, understand the influence of external forces on family finances and investments.

Twelfth, appropriately involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program.

Paying an honest tithe reaps blessings. Take 1/10th of what we make and give it to the Lord. God has said the windows of heaven will be opened and we will not have room enough to receive it. Elder Oaks has said, “We could not have survived if we did not pay our tithing.” Malachi 3:8-10 testifies of the value of tithing. Miracles will come to pass. Also, if parents share experiences of the blessings of God with their children and experience those moments with their children beautiful blessings are bestowed. D&C 59. As we build greater faith in Christ by keeping the Sabbath day holy. Take one day from the week and give it to God. One of the curses in the Book of Mormon when things became slippery – swords, riches – and the things that they were counting on to take care of them became slippery. We see that sometimes.

Teaching a good work ethic to children is a serious issue. We can have the children do chores and give them a reward for doing it. We should allow our children to contribute. When people believe that they are making a difference that changes the atmosphere for the home. It makes people more eager to perform their tasks. If people feel needed and wanted, they will usually have a greater desire to do well. Nothing improves someone’s self-esteem if they see that they made a great difference. Children naturally love to work. Work only becomes a bad thing when people come to think it is. People sometimes get the idea that work is only about cash, but it is more than that. If people think that all they contribute to the world is how much money they make can change their self-esteem. So many things in the world we transfer into dollar signs and there is some danger in that. Our worth is not dependent on how much we make. Money is sacred and valuable and the world has changed that into something that’s not of value. We can put a monetary value on jobs outside the home, but what truly matters is the work that does not have a monetary value. Work doesn’t equal money. There can be joy found in work; feelings of accomplishment can arrive. When parents phrase things into opportunities or privileges of learning it can change how the children respond. If we tie money into work it can alter the idea of service. If Mom and Dad are able to be positive and happy about the service they have rendered, the children will feel differently about it.

Teaching a good work ethic can teach self-reliance. The effort can lead to money which leads to fulfilling wants and needs. If a child lives in a house where the parents encourage and say, “That was really hard, but how great the reward! That was awesome.” When children see that their parents are excited about work and that it is a positive thing, then that will change their children’s ideas about work. Often times it would be easier to hire someone else to do the work instead of teaching children to do something, but being able to teach children different tasks it will be so beneficial to them. When parents make their children feel important and as if they are doing something worth noting, then children’s attitudes will change. For example, if a mother is talking to her 8 year old son and says, “Hey Jon, you get to be on diaper committee!” This will help children to not be afraid of work and they will feel great about being a part of something greater. When we don’t allow money to be the center of it and are creative about rewards and invitations of work, children learn differently.
When teaching children how to have a good work ethic, it is important to not micro-manage. We should allow our children to complete the tasks after being taught and understanding how it needs to be done. Also, we must make sure that we are workers. As parents, we are the examples to our children. They watch us. It matters what we do.

To start making a budget together as a companionship is wonderful. We should begin by saying, “WE should make a budget” and use the word “ours” when referring to our belongings. For one month, keep track of how much you spend. Track where all of the money. It gives couples ideas of what they can improve. We need to calculate the costs of what we are doing. Meet obligations. Husband and wife should counsel together and then go to the Lord with their presentations. God will lead them and inspire them.There are costs when one spouse becomes the money person because if something goes wrong, then it’s because of that person. A companionship is not separate. It is not “my” car and “your” cooking equipment; it is “our” car and “our” cooking equipment. Working as a companionship makes a difference.

The average second earner is generally spending more money than how they are working. We must look at the costs and benefits. If there is a second income it can be useful for the man to use his income for essentials and if the other spouse is working, they place the earnings in savings. Many say that they should take care of the largest investment, but it has been recommended to pay back the smallest debt in order to receive that reward. If we focus on the largest one, it still takes forever to pay it off and the smaller ones will remain. Beginning with the smallest and moving forward gives encouragement.

Often times there are dual-career families. There are three types. In the traditional duel-career family, the wife is in charge of the family work and also her career. In the participant dual-career family, the husband has some of the responsibilities in taking care of the children, but the wife is still responsible for housework. The last type is the role-sharing dual-career family where they are both involved in family and household jobs. It is all about being equal.

In his article, "Staying at home: How to downsize from dual to single income," Michael De Groote stated a few ways that couples can cut back and live on less. 
1. Inventory. We need to discover where our income is coming from and where it is going. 
2. Advice. Speak with a financial adviser from our bank or credit union. 
3. Move quickly. Make changes and plans right now before it may be too late. 
4. Make a budget. Divide the budget into things we can change and things we can't. Then list the things that have the largest impact on ourselves financially and can be changed. 
5. Plan. If a couple is able to plan to downsize, then placing money in savings is a wise decision. For those couples that are sharing financial income and want to downsize, it would be wise to live off of one income and place the income of the other spouse in savings. 

When we start to use the counsel method as a couple – know what will be talked about in advance, express love and appreciation, prayer, talk with Lord on the matter and seek HIS WILL, come to a consensus, end in prayer, and have refreshments – large decisions can be made. What happens between you and your spouse and the Lord is different for each person; it is personal and sacred.

Don’t ever underestimate God’s desire to help you and help you come together. We are placed in marriage to become one.

In courtship, it is important to see how someone we are dating spends money. It is important to know their financial state of mind. Do they live within their means? Do they know how to manage their money? How are they paying for school? Is he aware of gas prices and fuel economy? What kind of dates are they taking you on? When grocery shopping are they savvy with their money? Do they have coupons, are they documenting what they spend, do they pay attention to the prices, etc.? We would be wise to ask ourselves these same questions. We should observe how they are when it comes to money and show them how we are when it comes to money. When individuals are dating exclusively, they should be having serious discussions about money. It should be a discussion. Ask questions. There is value in having financial discussions early on. Money isn’t just the money that is in the home; it is about the resources that are within the home and what we are doing with it. Thought, consideration, and practice can be important. It is not just how much someone will earn, but what they do with those earnings. Think about needs. Are needs being met?

We are not really learning how to manage money; we are learning how to manage us. Learn to manage the resources we access.

In their article. “Family Work,” Kathleen Slaugh Bahr and Cheri A. Loveless make some suggestions to strengthen families.

1. Till The Ground. (Many have stated that having a garden is extremely beneficial to a family.)
Spencer W. Kimball has said, “I hope that we understand that, while having a garden, for instance, is often useful in reducing food costs and making available delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, it does much more than this. Who can gauge the value of that special chat between daughter and Dad as they weed or water the garden? How do we evaluate the good that comes from the obvious lessons of planting, cultivating, and the eternal law of the harvest? And how do we measure the family togetherness and cooperating that must accompany successful canning? Yes, we are laying up resources in store, but perhaps the greater good is contained in the lessons of life we learn as we live providently and extend to our children their pioneer heritage.”

2. Exemplifying the Attitudes We Want Our Children To Have.
If we wish to change our family habits on this matter, we must first change our own minds and hearts.”

3. Refusing Technology That Interferes With Togetherness.
Before we accept a scientific "improvement," we should ask ourselves what we are giving up for what we will gain.

4. Insisting Gently That Children Help.
Canadian scholars Joan Grusec and Lorenzo Cohen, along with Australian Jacqueline Goodnow, compared children who did 'self-care tasks' such as cleaning up their own rooms or doing their own laundry, with children who participated in 'family-care tasks' such as setting the table or cleaning up a space that is shared with others. They found that it is the work one does 'for others' that leads to the development of concern for others, while 'work that focuses on what is one's own' does not. Other studies have also reported a positive link between household work and observed actions of helpfulness toward others. In one international study, African children who did 'predominantly family-care tasks [such as] fetching wood or water, looking after siblings, running errands for parents' showed a high degree of helpfulness while children in the Northeast United States, whose primary task in the household was to clean their own room, were the least helpful of all the children in the six cultures that were studied."

5.    5. Avoiding a Business Mentality at Home. 
A common error is to try to make the work 'fun' with a game or contest, yet to chastise children when they become naturally playful ('off task,' to our thinking). Fond family memories often center around spontaneous fun while working, like pretending to be maids, drawing pictures in spilled flour, and wrapping up in towels to scrub the floor. Another error is to reward children monetarily for their efforts. According to financial writer Grace Weinstein, 'Unless you want your children to think of you as an employer and of themselves not as family members but as employees, you should think long and hard about introducing money as a motivational force. Money distorts family feeling and weakens the members' mutual support.'"

6.   6Working Side by side With Our Children.
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "Children need to work with their parents, to wash dishes with them, to mop floors with them, to mow lawns, to prune trees and shrubbery, to paint and fix up, to clean up, and to do a hundred other things in which they will learn that labor is the price of cleanliness, progress, and prosperity."

Gary Saul Morson, a professor of Russian literature at Northwestern University, argues convincingly that "the important events are not the great ones, but the infinitely numerous and apparently inconsequential ordinary ones, which, taken together, are far more effective and significant."

Many believe that the role of fatherhood is strictly to bring income into the home, but it is so much more than that. There are important principles about fatherhood. Fathers do different things that affect their children than the mothers. In gender role, watch how men hold their children. Women and men hold infants differently. Dads very often face their children towards the world; fathers tend to prepare the children for life and mothers will turn their children in, comfort them, and soothe them. Children get messages through life. One of the problems we have seen in the past few years is that individuals believe that motherhood and fatherhood are the same, but they are different. If we were to give one of those roles up in our children’s lives that would be a tragic thing. Motherhood and fatherhood are divinely created and very beneficial to the development of their children.

There have been frequent claims made by individuals who are convinced that women with education should not be homemakers. They believe that the educated women that stay home with their children are not reaching their full potential. 
However, women’s advocate Edith Hunter said, “Educated woman in the home? What an odd thing to deplore! What better place to have us end up? What more important job is there than sharing the values we are learning with the next generation of adults? What more strategic place could there be for an educated woman?”

Professor at BYU, Jenet Erickson, said, "A mother’s implementation of ordinary, daily practices of health and safety make her the central influence in preserving and nurturing life. A mother’s use of language in ordinary interactions expressing, explaining, and questioning make her the most significant influence in a child’s cognitive development. And a mother’s sensitivity and responsiveness to emotion make her the foundation of a child’s social-emotional strength. That is why her education matters so much. In critical ways, it is continuously woven into the hearts, minds, and bodies of her children." 

Denis Prager, in his article "Does a Full-Time Homemaker Swap Her Mind for a Mop?" said, "As a rule, little children don't contribute much to the intellectual life of a parent (although older children who are intellectually curious can spur a parent to seek answers to challenging questions they may not have considered before). Any intellectually alive woman who is a full-time mother must therefore find intellectual stimulation elsewhere. 

The point is that she can find such stimulation without leaving her house. Furthermore, the intellectual input she can find is likely to be greater than most women (or men) find working outside the home. There is a reason that about half the audience of my national radio show is female — they listen to talk radio for hours a day and broaden their knowledge considerably. To the left, the notion that talk radio enhances intellectual development is akin to fish needing bicycles. But that's because the left's greatest achievement is demonizing the right and because they never actually listen to the best of us. Lest the latter seem a self-serving suggestion, there are many other opportunities for full-time homemakers to broaden their intellectual horizons: recorded books and a few television networks, for example. And if a woman can get help from grandparents, neighbors, older children or a baby sitter, there are also myriad opportunities for study outside the house — such as community college classes, book clubs, etc. — and for volunteer work in intellectually more stimulating areas than most paid work." 

Resources:
Online article addressing issues of work and family life: "Family Work": http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=151




Saturday, June 27, 2015

Walk the Talk: Communication and Problem-Solving

How you say something is often more important than what you say.

There are three common channels to face to face communication. The first channel is the words we say. Second is the tone we use and how we say things. The third channel is the non-verbal suggestions we make. Those include body language, eye contact, posture, the look on our faces, moving hands, raising eyebrows, etc. How much of the message expressed comes from words (14%), tone (35%), and the non-verbal communication (51%).

A lot of miscommunication can occur when you are in a new environment. It can be challenging to be in a new environment. You are learning a new interpretation, a new experiment of how things run. Often times that’s why in dating we put our best foot forward; we want it to be easier for others to interpret us with our best qualities.

You can say whatever you want, but if your body is not expressing the same thing, people catch that.

Sarcasm. It is an interesting form of communication; this is a form of communication where someone sends messages in two different directions. There are our words vs. the tone and non-verbal messages we send. We, as a people, believe the tone and the non-verbal expressions. Humor in sarcasm usually results when things are not congruent. When there is an incompatibility it strikes us as funny. There is a danger in sarcasm. There is a real chance people can believe what you say sarcastically and be very hurt. If we use sarcasm, it can cause others to become skeptical of much of what we say and then be unsure of what we truly mean. It can cause others to question our sincerity. We send a message in two differing directions and decoding can be difficult. Be careful with sarcasm. It can be a confusing process.

Sarcasm: Words, Tone, Non-Verbal

Strive to convey directly ideas, feelings, and thoughts. We need to encode the message. We are putting things in a code. Everything we express on our face can have differing meanings. Code really is the process of trying to convey a message. We send it through a medium. As mentioned before, we have verbal, tone, and non-verbal mediums. There is also texting and posting photos on a social media which can act as mediums and act as a great potential for misunderstanding. After the medium is delivered, the other individual needs to decode the message, which leads to the other individual’s ideas, feelings.

(Our) Idea, feeling--> encode (by us)--> medium (used by us) --> decode (by them) --> (their) idea, feeling

Even if we have been successful in expressing idea to the other person, we don’t know it unless the other person shows us. They decode, use a medium to express that interpretation, and then we encode, which causes us to have a new idea, feeling based on what we perceive.

(Their) Idea, feeling --> decoded (by them) --> medium (transferred by them) --> encode (by us) -->(our) idea, feeling

When you’re in an emotional state it’s difficult to not think about anything else. Everything else seems worse or better. For example, when a roommate is twitter-patted, they cannot see anything wrong with that person. They just don’t see reality because they see what is consistent with their emotional state. 

If we are in an emotional state, our decoding will be greatly influenced by that.

Since only 14% comes through verbal communication, when we text we are missing 86% of the important components of communication. There is texting etiquette. For example, the difference between “Hey.”, “Hey ;)”, “Hey…”, etc.

Much of practice time communicating has been online. We have to learn more code systems, and we don’t learn them all equally well.

A lot of really great people have passed each other in the night who would have been friends because they don’t know how to communicate with one another.

We are always communicating and sometimes we do it with words.

POWER AND CONFLICT IN MARRIAGE

There will always be conflict with two people who have different preferences, experiences, etc. There are several advantages to having conflict. There is an opportunity to examine things and see what our perceptions have been before.  It brings perceptions into the open. It clarifies thoughts and feelings relevant to the topic. It creates some discomfort that gives us the opportunity to explore things, better understand our own and others perceptions, and allows us to prevent bigger conflicts that may arise later on. Many times people aren’t fighting over what they are fighting about, but fighting over how they fight. For example, “Whenever she asks me to do the dishes, she is so rude about it.” If we talk through smaller conflicts, we often avoid those great ones.

Address and examine many things before marriage. Practice working through conflicts when dating. Don’t miss that opportunity.

Let's talk about counseling with one another.. 
In a meeting it is nice for all to be able to have a turn to speak. No one feels the need to feel defensive because they know they will be able to speak. With an order, it allows everyone to ponder what they want to say and how they feel. The discussion is not about, “What do we want to do?” We are not discussing our preferences of opinions; we are seeking to come to a consensus about the Lord’s will. In a counsel, first express love and appreciation for one another. It softens hearts and welcomes the spirit, even before we pray. It adds sincerity. Express love and kindness regularly and then when you have a differing opinion, they will understand that you care. After expressing love, pray together before beginning your discussion to come to a consensus. Now, know that consensus and compromise are different. If you are both expressing your ideas of what you think could solve the problem, then together you can come up with an idea you are both pleased with because you know it is the Lord’s will. When we come together to counsel with one another, new light is revealed, hearts are opened, and we are able to come to one consensus of what the Lord would have us do. This process is not natural, but it is beautiful and it reaps more peace in relationships. It makes the decisions much easier. At the end of the counsel, pray once again. Then, have treats with one another; have chocolate or pie. 

Meet at a sacred place at a sacred time and have an agenda at least by the night before. The Spirit is so much more conducive when there is organization. It shows the Lord that we are pattering Heaven. Our minds want things to make sense and it is easier to follow things if there is an agenda. It allows both parties to come prepared, having prayed, pondered, and researched.

This is an inspired pattern: Express love and appreciation, prayer, consensus regarding the Lord’s will, prayer, and end with refreshments. This is a divine pattern to deal with serious problems with the serious problems of the family. Build upon what is good and true. That is when miracles happen. God has given us inspired processes. He is our Father and loves us.  

Be a good person first and fore-most. Work on you and then your communication skills will stem from the goodness within. There are also some skills that do help. When facing a discussion of debatable topics it is a good idea to begin the confrontation with a soft-start up. If we move forward with an aggressive and condescending tone, the conversation will most likely not end well. In studies performed, researchers found the 95% rule. 95% of the time if a couple began a conversation with a harsh tone, the conversation did not end well; whereas, 95% of the time if the couple started up with a kind, soft tone and non-threatening stance, the discussion was a positive experience. How you act within the first thirty seconds of the conversation to resolve problems, a good resolution can come from the kind tone. Once the soft start-up has occurred, repair attempts should take place. When the conversation is not well, one or both partners should strive to help it go better. Take a step back and recognize how the conversation is truly moving along. Remember the goal.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Under the gospel plan marriage is a companionship, with equality between the partners. We walk side by side with respect, appreciation, and love one for another. There can be nothing of inferiority or superiority between the husband and wife in the plan of the Lord. I am satisfied that our Father in Heaven loves his daughters as much as he loves his sons, and any man who demeans or belittles his wife affronts her Father in Heaven.”

There are some basic communication skills that do work well in these problem-solving conversations. I-messages is one of those skills. It is when you focus on your own feelings and thoughts as to not point fingers at the wrongdoings of the other individual. For example, “I am feeling really stressed out and it doesn’t seem fair to me that I always have to do the dishes. This is how I am feeling.” Speak for yourself. Don’t say, “You always do this. You do not value me.” Do not try to mind read.
Another skill that is essential to the success of communication is listening skills. Invalidation is a serious issue. If your spouse is talking to you about something they are really concerned about and you are thinking of something else or watching a tv show or telling them, “

There is reflective, empathic, active listening. This is not just listening. Listen for feelings, reflect that back to them in a kind and non-judgmental way. Say, “Let me make sure I’m getting this straight…” and repeat what you understand from the conversation or validate them by saying, “That sounds so difficult.” Be there all the way for them. Be physically present. People do not need you to tell them what to do or give them a resolve of action they should take.

There are also some conflict resolution steps. First, identify and define the issues. Understand exactly what the problem is. Secondly, make a contract to truly work through the issue. Often times, couples will get off track from the actual problem. Remember what you are really discussing and what you truly want to figure out and determine when. Sometimes, we want to talk about a problem right then and there, but if the other individual cannot talk about it right then, then make a plan for another time. Thirdly, clarify the issue completely. Use I-messages and reflective listening. Express thoughts about the issue. Beforehand, it is a great idea to think about the issue. Is it truly about you having to do the dishes or is the underlying issue that you feel over-worked? Fourthly, identify the wants for yourself, others, and your companionship. What do you truly want to get out of it? What do you really care about? What is the bottom line? Fifthly, identify alternatives and brainstorm.  Now that you know what each person wants, you are aware of the goals. Shoot to get everyone what they want. For brainstorming, say every idea you think and do not judge the suggestions of others. Sixthly, solidify your agreements and choose a plan of action that you can follow. Often times the solution is a combination of both parties. Lastly, try the plan. Test it.

There are often six areas of marital interaction that explain a lot of the conflict in marriage. Generally, conflict arises from power and control, trust fidelity, nurturance, intimacy and privacy, differences in style. 

As we gather together and discover the ways that we can come to conclusions together and progress, miracles will be made. 

Just a thought.

Resources: 
https://prezi.com/embed/c8575130e313f0c568248269e2b02947f7a3cfc0/

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/strength-in-counsel?lang=eng#watch=video