The purpose of this blog is to create a place to provide resources that may help to strengthen marriages and families and to record and share my thoughts, impressions, feelings and knowledge about a broad spectrum of family topics and in exploring and learning more about family functions and the influence family life has on individuals and society. Topics include family relationships, family dynamics, gender, family science research, intimacy in marriage, same sex attraction, parenting, etc. I am excited to share what I am learning about the family and hope that readers will feel free to share as well that together we might strengthen, protect and defend the family as the fundamental unit of our society. ** Please look for the FHE Ideas at the end of certain posts to use as a resource for your families.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Understanding Same Sex Attraction
**Please Note:** This article and the links that follow will take a large amount of  your time to look over but it is well worth it and necessary to be more informed on this important topic.  Please share this with others and I would love your feedback!

In lieu of recent events that have taken place in our Federal Courts of Law... This topic is one that I believe is worth discussing and understanding.  There is much debate and struggle over this issue even among members of the Church.  Many are being deceived by what society, the media and our law makers are telling them.  Statements like "redefining marriage" and being "born that way" are among the most significant and important issues to really understand because these are the issues that have the greatest impact on our society and on the doctrine of the family.  If we believe that it is necessary and morally right to redefine marriage to include marriage between two people of the same gender than we are essentially seeking to reestablish God's eternal doctrine on the family according to ancient and modern day revelation.  "Marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God" and "God has commanded that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."  (The Family Proclamation).  We cannot makes these changes in the laws or our land and not expect to have some very serious consequences on our nation and on the world. "We...warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." (The Family Proclamation)
If we believe that people are "born" with same gender attraction then we lose the ability and desire to seek light, truth and healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ regarding this difficult and sensitive issue.  We know that "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity." We also know that men and women were commanded to "multiply and replenish the earth" and that is only possible with a man and a woman. It is so important for us as a society and as disciples of Jesus Christ to seek truth in this matter and the more knowledge and understanding we can gain the more we can help those who struggle with same sex attraction to reach their fullest potential.  We can't just assume that our government leaders and lawmakers are correct and the research they use to support their decisions is correct.  We must act for ourselves and seek light and truth.  Please take the time to read over the below research and discussions/videos on these important topics.
The assertion that was made based on a brief prepared and presented to the courts by the American Psychological Association first in March 2013 and then again this last year states "Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." (APA Brief, 2005,p. 15)  This brief has been used widely to change state and family law and was just currently presented to the Supreme Court to change federal law.  What is so very intriguing and also very sad is that there was also another brief presented to the court which examines the validity of the APA brief... and has found that the research used in the APA brief was far from being sound and did in fact have some very serious and large flaws.  This brief is not so widely used (not surprising) and not so well known and talked about in the media. Please take the time to review this....check out the highlighted parts... you will be amazed at the lack of good judgement and sound research that was used by the Supreme Court (Law making professionals) to make perhaps the most important decision in the history of our nation concerning the definition of marriage.  They made the wrong decision.
 Brief by Dr. Loren Marks

Keeping in mind all of the flaws contained in that research and the above assertion that was made by the APA based on seriously flawed research about children of homosexual parents... please take some time to review the New Family Structure Study (NFSS)... a comparative social science project led by Dr. Mark Regnerus of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin .  This is an amazing study and has been conducted using large random samples, control groups, and over the course of many years following children into adulthood.  There are some extremely helpful interactive tools on this website that make it really fast and easy to see the results they have found in their research.

This is a video:  Understanding Same Sex Attraction that takes a look at a professional counseling center's approach and beliefs about same sex attraction and how one can truly be helped to overcome this struggle if so desired.  (Currently there is a movement to change laws regarding and eradicate "reparative therapy or conversion therapy" which is therapy provided to individuals who struggle with same sex attraction and desire to change.  If this movement continues... which it most certainly will... think of the effect that will have on thousands of individuals who truly desire help and healing in their lives.)

This is a discussion between two Marriage and Family Therapists that sheds new light on the topic and introduces some of the research articles listed below...

The articles below are written by social psychologist Daryl J. Bem, Ph.D (Who actually identifies himself as Gay) and were published by the American Psychological Association. It is worth noting that Dr. Bem was NOT motivated by political agenda or any other agenda other than finding the truth.  Dr. Bem has formulated a theory based on this research showing that individuals are not "born gay" but rather through a process of socialization and often mis-treatments and other factors some individuals who are born with specific traits and personalities often begin to eroticize and sexualize the same gender during adolescence.  The amount of research, evidence and findings is compelling and well worth the time it takes to read over.
Exotic Becomes Erotic: A Developmental Theory of Sexual Orientation

Exotic Becomes Erotic: Explaining the Enigma of Sexual Orientation

Exotic Becomes Erotic: Interpreting the Biological Correlates of Sexual Orientation

These next articles are written by Dr. Dean Byrd who asserts some of the same research, information and theories of Darryl Bem but also adds his own research and findings.
Born That Way - Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality

Same Sex Attraction - Science, Research and Therapy

Great resource websites for anyone seeking help with and understanding of unwanted same sex attraction:
Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction

FHE Ideas:
With the guidance of the spirit, discuss with your families age appropriate concepts and thoughts and feelings about this sensitive and important topic and share any information from the above resources that you may feel prompted to share.
Read over the The Family: A Proclamation to the World and the Instruction Given to the Church Leaders and Members regarding Same Sex Marriage  and discuss the important doctrine of the family.  Also discuss how we should treat others with this struggle with love, kindness and respect just as Christ would treat them.  Help your family to understand that we can offer our help and support to those who desire to change.

Friday, July 10, 2015


"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 Proclamation)

Parenting is perhaps the biggest challenge most of will face in this life.  However, it is necessary and it will bring the greatest rewards in our lives if we heed the counsel of the Lord and his prophets.  Pres. Brigham Young said this, "Parents should never drive their children, but lead them along, giving them knowledge as their minds are prepared to receive it.  Chastening may be necessary at times, but parents should govern their children by faith rather than by the rod, leading them kindly by good example into all truth and holiness."

The biggest challenge for me in parenting is leading instead of driving.  It requires much patience to "lead" my children rather than force or "drive" them.  In D&C 121:36-37 it teaches us that righteous parenting emphasizes charity, gentleness, kindness, long-suffering, persuasion, and appropriate discipline in a warm and nurturing relationship.  The following are crucial elements for each child:

- Love, warmth and support
- Clear and reasonable expectations for competent behavior
- Limits and boundaries with some room for negotiation and compromise
- Reasoning and developmentally appropriate consequences and punishments for breaching established limits
- Opportunities to perform competently and make choices
- Absence of coercive, hostile forms of discipline, such as harsh physical punishment, love withdrawal, shaming, and inflicting guilt.
- Models of appropriate behavior consistent with self-control, positive values, and positive attitudes.

There are three main styles of parenting.  The first is Authoritative style...(not to be confused with authoritarian style which is the complete opposite) The above list are some of the characteristics of an authoritative style of parenting.  This style is the optimal style and fosters a positive  emotional connection with children, provides for regulation that places fair and consistent  limits on child behavior and allows for reasonable child autonomy in decision making.  The three main concepts in authoritative parenting are love, limits and lattitude.  (Hawkins p. 108)

The second style of parenting is permissive parenting.  "This is characterized by parents who overindulge children or neglect them by leaving them to their own devices.  This style includes a shirking of sacred parental responsibilities as parents fail to provide guidance and constraint when it is required for the child's good." (Hawkins p. 107)  Social science research suggests that children who are raised by permissive parents may have "greater difficulty respecting others, coping with frustration, delaying gratification for a greater goal, and following through with plans."  They tend to struggle in academics and are more defiant of authority, have a higher rate of adolescent sexual activity and drug and alcohol use. (Hawkins, p. 107)

The third style of parenting is the coercive style.  The coercive/hostile or "authoritarian" style of parenting is characterized by parents "who deride, demean or dimish children and teens by continually putting them in their place, putting them down, mocking them, or holding power over them via punitive or psychologically controlling means." (Hawkins, p.105)  This style of parenting has been linked to many forms of antisocial, withdrawn, and delinquent behaviors in children and teens.  It is also associated with high levels of anxiety and depression.  Pres. Brigham Young said "I will here say to parents, that kind words and loving actions toward children will subdue their uneducated nature a great deal better than the rod, or in other words, than physical punishment."  Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley echoed Pres. Young's words when he said, "I have never accepted the principle of 'spare the rod and spoil the child'... Children don't need beating.  They need love and encouragement."
There is much we can learn about good parenting.  Each child is unique and special and certainly there is no exact process or style that works best for each child.  Something that I am striving to learn is to follow the guidance of the spirit when i am interacting with my daughters in any setting.  This is not easy to do and it will be a long time before I master this concept... maybe in the next life but I know this is the only way to help them become who they truly are and who their Father in Heaven wants and needs them to be.  He knows them best and only He knows how to help them.

FHE Ideas:
Song:  Lead, Kindly Light (Hymn #97)

Discuss the different types of parenting styles and ask children to explain which style they think is closest to Heavenly Father's style of parenting.  Play a game and ask the children to be the parents for a time.  Discuss when its over what challenges they had when acting like the parents and what could they do better or different to help others be happy.
For Older Children:
Read or watch one of these conference talks and discuss the principles they teach.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families." (The Family Proclamation)

Much attention seems to be focused on Motherhood and the important role mothers play in their children's lives.  This, of course, is a most worthy and important topic that should be considered and explored in great detail.  However, it seems that the emphasis on motherhood sometimes makes us underestimate the importance of fatherhood and the very specific roles fathers play in the emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of their children. Elder L. Tom Perry said, Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers. Increased youth violence, youth crime, greater poverty and economic insecurity, and the failure of increasing numbers of children in our schools offer clear evidence of lack of a positive influence of fathers in the homes. 5 A family needs a father to anchor it...It appears to me that the crosshairs of Satan’s scope are centered on husbands and fathers. Today’s media, for example, have been relentless in their attacks—ridiculing and demeaning husbands and fathers in their God-given roles." Father's are under attack and I believe it is because Satan understands how critical it is for children to have the influence of their fathers in their lives.  We have discussed in class how the organization and family structure have changed over the course of several decades.  It was much more common for father's to be at home and working alongside their children before the industrialization of our country/world.  It is interesting to see the changes and impact that has had on our society.  Interaction between father's and their children has significantly diminished and it requires much more effort to establish a close trusting relationship with our children now than ever before in the history of this world.  After studying a bit about the affects of father absence it was amazing to see the impact fathers really can and do have on their children.
I had the privilege of studying a dissertation written by Chrysogonus Nwele of M.A. Fordham University entitled  "Fatherhood and a child's education: Exploring the effects of a father's absence on the social, moral, and religious lives of children."
Nwele researched five different roles fathers have particular in importance to a child's development.  The first one is "Father's availability"  I found it interesting that availability was defined as more than just living in the home and being there.  Availability referred to being available to help children with personal problems, learning new things and associating himself with the child's growth and maturity.  Nwele suggests that its not enough for a father to have passive presence in the home where he avoids confrontation, disagreements or interaction with his wife and children.  Children will likely feel "more rejected by a father who is there in body but absent in things a father should do."  The research further suggests that children who are well fathered from birth appeared to be more secure in exploring the world around them, and less timid in the face of unusual stimuli.  They are also more likely to have good cognitive development and achieve greater success in school and extracurricular activities.
The second role is "Father's engagement".  This is similar to availability but this includes a father's attitude and actual time he spends with his child which is measured by how much direct contact and interaction he has with his child through "play, leisure, caregiving and direct communication". Nwele also points out that the amount of direct eye contact a father has with his children is important to consider.  The closeness children feel with their father is a far greater indicator of "positive life outcomes" for the children than just the father's presence in the home.
The third role is "the provider."  This is an important role in a child's life and can have a large negative or positive impact on a child's socio-economic well-being.  Nwele states, "in most cases, children suffer material hardships and even severe poverty if their fathers are exonerated from child support or fail to pay child support after a divorce."  A child's physical and emotional needs can better be met by a father who takes his responsibility as a provider seriously.
The fourth role of a father is "nurturer."  Research suggests that fathers should have an active role as a nurturer in their child's life.  He defines paternal nurturance as a "father's ability to know his child, interact with his child and serves as the child's role model, disciplinarian, protector, enforcer and educator." He also explains that if a father is overly authoritarian then he creates a wall between himself and his child and is therefore "absent" in the child's life.
The final role that is discussed in the father as "guardian, protector and teacher."  One of the essential roles a father has is that of protector.  Sigmond Freud said this, "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."  Nwele discussed the critical role a father plays in protecting his wife and children against physical and emotional harm from themselves and others.  A father's presence in the home creates security.  A father who accomplishes his role as protector and educator "empowers his children to choose rightly, helps them to appreciate the dignity of labor and the right attitude towards it, assists them in connecting effort with reward, standard with achievement and in finding joy through perserverance."  In homes where problem solving skills are taught and emphasized children become "life-long learners and self-confident adults."

FHE Ideas:
Song:  "Daddy's Homcoming"
Read or watch one of the conference talks below with your family and discuss the important points made about fatherhood.  Discuss with your children why our Heavenly Father desires us to address Him as "Father" of all the title he could have chosen and how we can better respect and value the sacred and important role of fathers in each of our lives.
The Greatest Challenge in the World - Good Parenting (James E. Faust)

Courageous Parenting (Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


We know in today's world families face all kinds of stress and even crises.  Sometimes we feel that what we face as a family is crushing and overwhelming.  I would like to discuss some positive ways families can cope with stress and difficulties and also take a look at the negative ways we sometimes cope that we may be better able to avoid these coping methods.
First, I found it very interesting that when you take a look at the Chinese word for "crisis" it consists of two characters that represent the words "danger" and "opportunity".  I think this explains very well what crisis can be in our lives.  Usually it does present danger in some form whether this is physical danger, emotional danger or spiritual danger.  However, the most important thing to remember and to focus on is that crisis in our lives also presents an opportunity for us to learn, grow and change.  If we keep this perspective then the stress and problems we encounter in our lives will not be crushing to us.
Some negative forms of coping with stress and crises:
Denial - this is a defense mechanism in which people will not believe what they observe.  This is the most common
Avoidance - Sometimes people acknowledge that a problem exists but they avoid confronting and dealing with it.
Scapegoat - this occurs when someone admits a problem but feel that they have to find someone or something to blame.  They select a family scapegoat to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the problem.
These negative coping methods are ineffective.  However, "ineffective" does not mean that a coping pattern does not work for an individual or family.  Rather, it means that it is not a pattern that typically will yield long-term, constructive outcomes (Lauer, p.301).

Some positive tools for coping:

Mindfulness - this is awareness and paying attention on purpose in the moment to things as they really are.
Take responsibility - effective coping begins when you take responsibility for yourself and for your family by honestly facing the problem.
Learn the art of reframing - Reframing, or redefining the meaning of something is a way of changing your perspective on a situation.  This is where the "opportunity" is in every problem and crisis.
Find and use available resources - as members of the church we have been given an endless amount of positive and helpful resources.  It is up to us to take advantage of these!
Forgiveness/Repentance - These are topics that I could dedicate an entire blog post to but let me just hit on some important points regarding these two principles.  First, "Elder Dallin H. Oaks identified the instruction to repent as the gospel's 'most frequent message' and defined repentance as transformation.  'The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change... Repenting means giving up all of our practices - personal, family, ethnic, and national - that are contrary to the commandments of God.  The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.'
Christ taught "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)
Elder Richard G. Scott recommended forgiveness - although it is "most difficult" -- as "the sure path to peace and healing."  Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized that forgiveness "may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed." (Hawkins, p. 203).  It is also interesting to note that research has found that "individuals and families who are able to forgive important transgressions are likely to have better emotional and physical health and positive emotions imporve health in a variety of ways.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a relationship between forgiveness and well-being" (Hawkins, p.203).  "By contrast, not forgiving can lead to harm.  'Unforgiveness' is considered a stress reaction in response to a perceived threat and the emotions associated with unforgiveness, such as resentment, hostility, blame and fear, have been linked to health risks" ( Hawkins, p 203).
The Council Method:  Again this method should have an entire post dedicated to it but I will touch on it briefly here.  Elder Ballard has carefully taught this method to us over and over again.  It is an inspired method to be used in families as well as in Church leadership and I believe there is no better way for a family to resolve issues, concerns, problems and face the most difficult question and crises then through this method.  This is a way for our families to come together and for everyone to be heard and valued and then to gain inspiration concerning the Lord's will for each family and for each problem or question they may have.  The basic steps are as follows:  Hold the meeting in a sacred place and specific time.  Come prepared with a specific agenda before hand.  Begin each meeting by expressing love and appreciation for each member of the family. Pray together that you may come to a consensus regarding the Lord's will.  Each person shares his thoughts and feelings and then a consensus is reached.  End with a prayer of gratitude and then enjoy a treat together.  Elder Ballard wrote a book entitled "Counseling with our Councils: Learning to Minister Together" which I highly recommend. Here are some links to listen to Elder Ballard explain this method in greater detail.

FHE Ideas:
Watch one or more of the above videos and discuss Elder Ballard's Council Method and practice the principles he sets forth.  Maybe try holding a family council about an important topic, problem or issue your family is facing right now.
Discuss principles of forgiveness and repentance using scripture references and/or conference talks.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Honoring Marital Vows with Complete Fidelity:
The proclamation explains that a husband and wife should "honor marital vows with complete fidelity." 

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson once said, "The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality.  This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of  Israel than any other"   Elder Neal A Maxwell has pointed out, "The seventh commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery) is one of the least heeded but most needed laws of God."
"A misconception in the world today is that infidelity involves solely the commission of sexual acts outside of marriage.  However, being completely faithful to one's spouse requires more than avoiding adultery.  Pres. Spencer W. Kimball taught, 'Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity.'  We marry with the understanding that we will give ourselves completely to our spouse and that any divergence is sin.  We show our faithfulness to God by loving him with all our "heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2).  We show fidelity to our spouse in the same ways.  Indeed, our spouse is the only other being besides God whom we are commanded to love with all our heart.  We are commanded to love our spouse with all our heart and cleave unto none else (D&C 42:22) (Hawkins, p59).
There are four types of infidelity.  Emotional: fantasy(detached) and romantic (attached) and Physical: Visual (detached) and sexual (attached).  Fantasy infidelity is characterized by having an emotional affair with someone who has no knowledge about what is taking place or with someone who is anonymous.  This type of infidelity involves fantasizing romantically about someone other than a spouse.  This can take place completely in one's imagination but  more and more emotional infidelity is being committed online through emails, chat rooms and social networking sites. Many justify their thoughts by claiming that their love is dead.  However, Pres. Kimball taught that when love wanes or dies, "it is often the infidelity of thought or act  which gave the lethal potion." (Hawkins p. 60).
Visual Infidelity/Pornography is perhaps the most common type of unfaithfulness.  Pres. Kimball said, "There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts, and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband....Many acknowledge the vice of physical adultery, but still rationalize that anything short of that heinous sin may not be condemned too harshly; however, the Lord has said many times: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Romantic Infidelity occurs when an individual becomes emotionally involved with a specific person other than his or her spouse. Otherwise known as emotional infidelity which is defined as having emotions or thoughts about someone other than the spouse.
Sexual infidelity -  "Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. (Proverbs 6:32).  This occurs when a person engages in sexual acts outside the bonds of marriage with our without emotional attachment.  A professor and marriage counselor Veon Smith said "infideltiy is a subtle process.  It does not begin with adultery; it begins with thoughts and attitudes.  Each step to adultery is short and each is easily taken; but once the process starts, it is difficult to stop."  Satan will try to convince us that we can find happiness in infidelity. However, Pres. Benson warned, "Quickly relationships will sour.  Guilt and shame set in.  We become fearful that our sins will be discovered.  We must sneak and hide, lie and cheat.  Love begins to die.  Bitterness, jealousy, anger and even hate begin to grow."
There are obvious consequences to infidelity.  The spiritual consequences are real and serious.  There are also other negative consequences.  "Infidelity produces traumatic on the spouse...Children whose parents have been unfaithful also tend to be confused and disillusioned, and at times also experience despair." (Hawkins, p62).  Objectification, overemphasizing the visual, overemphasizing sex and instant gratification and instant solutions are also some negative consequences that come from infidelity.
Some ways to avoid and prevent infideltiy in our marriages are to establish proper and clear boundaries both within and without the marriage. "Dr. Shirley Glass points out that infidelity is more about boundaries than anything else.  She uses an anology of walls and windows. In an extramarital affair, people put up walls in their own marriage and open the window to others outside the marriage.  Instead, we must know how to put up appropriate walls to protect our marriages from outside influences and open the window of love and communication within our marriage." (Hawkins, p63)   Being on constant guard as to what we allow into our personal lives and minds and what we allow into our homes is another important protection.  Being fiercely loyal to our spouse which includes, being aware of the subtly of the adversary, controlling our thoughts and putting our spouse first. "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else" (D&C 42:22). "Pres. Kimball related, "The words none else eliminate everyone and everything.  The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse.

Steps to Repairing Marriage after Infidelity:
1. Rebuild Trust
    Becoming accountable
    Establishing Boundaries
    Rebuilding the trust bank account
2. Gain Perspective -- both spouse explore aspects of marriage and where they need improvements
3. Repentance and Forgiveness
    Confession and forsaking the sin
    Finding forgiveness
4.  Overcoming Addiction -- seek necessary help in overcoming addiction
5.  Making the Choice to Stay Together
     Healing the past
     Strengthening the Present
     Enriching the Future

Friday, June 5, 2015

Marital Intimacy:
"We further declare that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." (The Family Proclamation)

Despite the worlds view on sexuality and intimacy we have been given special and sacred instructions regarding this delicate and important subject. "Marital sexuality serves several purposes for both husband and wife as individuals as well as for the couple relationship.  These purposes include becoming one, connecting with God, strengthening the emotional and spiritual bonds in marriage, avoiding temptation, and continuing the generational chain by bringing children into a family (Hawkins, p.49).  I would like to focus a little more on a couple of these purposes.  Becoming One: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that sexual union is a " matrimony...a physical blending [symbolic of a ] larger, more complete union of eternal purpose and promise...a symbol of total union... of their hearts, their hopes, their lives."  Connection with God.  One christian writer describes sex in marriage as "an act of worship, a sacrament of marriage that invites and welcomes the very presence of God" (Hawkins, p.50).  Some would argue that men and women are too different and those differences are a cruel act of God making it impossible for husband and wife to ever understand one another.  However, I would argue this point and declare that these differences are the very reason we have the opportunity to become like God. We cannot fully understand our partner unless we invite the spirit into our relationship.  It is only through the spirit of God that we will be able to truly know each other and have empathy and compassion.  And it is through this process that we come to truly know our Savior better and his perfect love and empathy for each of us.  Marital intimacy is a perfect opportunity for us to become truly selfless and put the needs of another above our own.
Here is a list of attitudes that help promote positive marital sexuality as including the beliefs that:
1. Sexual interaction is a healthy component of marriage that need not be a source of negative feelings or guilt.
2. Married persons deserve to feel good about their bodies and to view sexual expression as a normal, healthy part of their marriage.
3. A primary component of marital sexuality is giving and receiving pleasure-oriented touching in the context of an intimate, committed, and divinely supported relationship.  As such, it requires relaxation and focus on the other person as well as on one's own pleasure.
4. Sexuality should be expressed in a way that enhances your intimate, marital relationship and bonds you together.
5. Couples should strive to create a "we" relationship, where both partners' sharing and pleasure is important as opposed to one person individually focused on what she or he will get out of the experience.
(Hawkins, p. 52).

FHE Ideas:
Discuss the Proclamation: ""We further declare that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."
Read and discuss Elder Hollands talk, "Personal Purity"
Discuss the attitudes listed above that promote healthy and positive marital intimacy.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Gender Roles and Divine Eternal Identities:

"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose... By divine design, fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these repsponsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."  (The Family Proclamation)

I have been learning about the differences in men and women and it has been fascinating to learn that research has proven that differences between men and women do in fact exist.  Despite what many in society today would have us believe.  It seems to be a terrible thing to suggest that women are naturally more capable of certain things (verbal communication, more observant, listening, empathy) and men are more naturally capable of certain things (non-verbal communication, action focused , task oriented, spatial orientation, aggressive).  But science has proven what God has declared and taught in the Proclamation.  When studying the brains of men and women, research has shown that men have more "gray matter" which is the tissue associated with problem solving and task orientation.  Women's brains are made up of as much as 5x more "white matter" otherwise known as "connective tissue".   This is associated with emotions, communication, creative abilities, etc.  When you compare this information with the divine responsibilities of men and women that God has established in the Family Proclamation it is amazing how we have been created to accomplish these divine purposes.  It is very sad to me that in an effort to "equalize" the genders and make certain that everyone is treated fairly (a noble and worthy cause) we have swung to the other side of the pendulum and the adversary is succeeding in eliminating altogether these divne roles and attributes that men and women have.  "Equality is all too often used to mean "identity"; that is, that two equal things must be identical to each other.  Such usage represents a fallen and harmful understanding of equality that is espoused by Lucifer, who passionately wants all to be 'like.. himself'." (Hawkins, p.38).  We know from the Proclamation that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose."  In other words, gender or sex presents at least one way we will differ in the eternities.  Though men and women are very different in purpose we also know that we are equal in terms of importance and worth to our Father in Heaven.  In fact it has been interesting to further understand the eternal doctrine of marriage and everlasting covenant. "Indeed, the restored gospel teaches us that the term "God" means an exalted man and exalted woman united in the everlasting covenant of marriage." (Hawkins, p39).  We cannot reach our fullest potential without each other.  It makes me think of what we know about our brains. If we were to combine and man's brain with a woman's brain - weld it together in perfect unity then the result would be one completely perfectly functioning brain that is capable of unlimited power.  I believe that this is the ultimate purpose of marriage and how well does the adversary twist and turn this amazing doctrine into something so completely opposite.  He has almost perfectly mastered his deceptions which are all devised specifically to destroy marriages and families.
  If we really stop to think about what Satan tells us... one one hand he is leading the movement of people and society that would have us believe that there is no gender differences... that we are all the same, "equal" and women can do all that men do and men can do all that women do etc. etc.  This lie causes great confusion and leads to mothers leaving the home to work, gender confusion, decline in marriage rates, individualism, redefining marriage, etc.  You could go on and on as to what this one lie leads to.  And on the other hand Satan whispers carefully (sometimes he screams it) in the ears of those who are married that we are "too different..." that men and women- husbands and wives will never be able to "really connect" or relate to each other and "marriage is too hard because of these differences" so we should "give up" and find someone else who will "meet our needs"... etc.etc.  This lie leads to a rise in divorce, separation and if nothing else, just simply empty, unhappy marriages.  Either lie ultimately leads to destruction of the family.

FHE Ideas:
Song: "The Family is of God"
Scripture: 1 Corithians 11:11 "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord"
Read Proclamation: "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose... By divine design, fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these repsponsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
Discuss the different attributes that men and women have.  Discuss the divine roles that men and women have according to the Proclamation and how children can prepare now to accomplish these purposes.  How does Satan try to stop us from accomplishing these purposes?

Video Resource about Gender differences:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Understanding Family Dynamics and Abuse
"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness"

It is crucial to the happiness in family life to explore and be aware of the family dynamics.  Family Systems theory asserts that intimate groups must be analyzed as a whole because the "whole is greater then the sum of all parts."   In other words if we want to understand families and their effectiveness or non- effectiveness in the lives of individuals and to society we must look at the family as a whole and the interactions, relationships and involvement with one another.  We cannot just study one individual of a family in order to understand a whole family.  There are many basic assumptions made in Family Systems Theory that help us to understand our family dynamics.  Some of these include, family rules, family types, family roles and family cohesion.  Family rules are repetitive patterns of interaction that a family lives by (ie. "dad always controls the remote" or "never wake up mom when she is taking a nap")  These rules are generally unspoken but known by all and reinforced by either positive or negative feedback.
There are several different Family types and this is based on the rigidity of family boundaries.  "Open families have healthy boundaries and are respectful of each other in most cases.  "Random families" have no boundaries, and are disengaged from each other.   "Closed families" are enmeshed or overly involved in each others lives. They value privacy or even secretiveness.  Most families fall somewhere on this continuum between "open and closed"
Family roles -- all family members take on roles that help the family to function.  All families function whether negatively or positively but each member plays an important role in the family to help with its functioning.  These roles are also unspoken and are formed based on the principle of feedback loops and redundancy.  If certain family members try to move out of their role their is often some sort of shift in balance and other family members do what they can to make certain that person assumes his or her role again.  Some roles include, the hero (responsible and successful), the delinquent (black sheep), invisible child (keeps a very low profile, doesn't get into trouble), clown (uses humor in dealing with family problems).
Family cohesion refers to the degree of closeness or emotional bonding and flexibility or adaptability to new/stressful situations.  This can range anywhere from rigid to chaotic.
Abuse is another important topic to understand and be aware of because I believe it is often misunderstood and occurs far more frequently in our families than we may acknowledge or realize.  "Abuse consists of actions or attitudes that are intended to hurt or control.  It can include many different types of behaviors, from subtle verbal criticisms to the severest form of physical or sexual violence." (Hawkins, p250)  Children learn from the adults in their lives how to feel about themselves.  We as parents have only a short time to give our children a sense of self worth.  Emotional and verbal abuse may be the most common form of abuse.  It is a "repeated pattern of demeaning, devaluing and conveying to a person that he or she is unlovable, worthless or unwanted.
Other forms of abuse include sexual abuse, physical abuse, intimate partner violence, etc. Often abuse affects individuals for a lifetime and have an impact on a person's well being during adolescence and adulthood.  Some of these affects include "emotional problems, intellectual deficits, shame and guilt, and insecure attachment" (Hawkins, p 255).  The topic of abuse is far too broad to cover in depth so I hope that this material initiates some awareness and motivates the reader to further understand and a greater commitment to recognize, prevent and alleviate maltreatment of all types.

FHE Ideas:
Song:  Love At Home
Sripture: Doctrine and Covenants 109:8
Read the Proclamation: "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteous"
Facilitate a family discussion on the family rules and allow children to share what they believe are some of the family rules. Make sure they are free to be honest and you might be surprised to learn what they are aware of.  List the rules on a board or piece of paper and reflect on which ones might be positive and which ones might be negative and in need of some adjustments.  Let your children express freely any feelings of mistreatment they may have experienced.  Listen and validate their feelings and commit to changing any behaviors or patterns that may not be inviting the spirit into your home.  This activity itself will help to facilitate family cohesion and unity.
For younger children it might be fun to have them act out some of the "family rules"

Saturday, May 2, 2015

SOCIETAL TRENDS IN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Modern Fertility Patterns and God's Commadment to Multiply and Replenish the Earth

Some trends in our society today include an increase in premarital sex, birth to unmarried women, number of people living alone, cohabitation, delayed marriage, employed mothers, divorce and a decrease in fertility rates, birthrates and household size.  Here is some specific online resources of fertility patterns:

Many myths are also floating around based on some not-so-reliable research, a decline in moral values and social movements trying to eliminate gender roles and identity and redefine marriage.

The myth that our earth is becoming overpopulated is just one of these very common misconceptions.
Is the world in danger of being overpopulated?  Please consider watching this 2 part video series:

I was intrigued with these videos.  Although it was not surprising to me to see that as the world has shifted its core values away from those that align with God's, that we will experience some pretty severe consequences.  Its never a surprise to me that the prophesies of old and the commandments we have been given are for a reason and eventually are proven scientifically.  It is surprising to me, however, that so many people in our faith continue to need "proof" of some kind to then really believe or trust in God and his commandments.  Bottom line... God knows more than we do.  If we listen to his voice and His servants we will be blessed.  If we do not, we have no promise.  It really boils down to that.
It absolutely does matter how many children we decide to have or are willing to have.  Of course there are circumstances that prevent couples from having children but the Lord know where our hearts and desires are and our willingness.  This decision affects myself, my spouse, my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, my children, my unborn children, their unborn children, etc., etc. We could go on and on about the far reaching effects of having children.  Have you ever considered that by choosing to bring one soul into the world and teaching that soul the Gospel of Jesus Christ, helping them to gain a much potential does that individual have?  How many lives will that one soul touch or bless for good?  How many generations of spirits will be affected if that one soul is truly converted to the Gospel?  The actual numbers are impossible to calculate.  And then if we multiply that number by each child that is born to us we have an endless opportunity to build the Kingdom of God.  As a mother I have only begun to realize the opportunity, duty and the responsibility I have in rearing my children in the Gospel.  I have five daughters and if I do what I can to raise them to desire to become mothers then I have succeeded in building the kingdom of God in more ways than I can measure.  Additionally, we should consider that the decision is not ours to make.  If we are here on earth to align our will to God's will then it is His decision how many children and when these children should be born to us.  Other factors like financial stability, emotional strength, being "ready", etc.... actually shouldn't play any part in our decision making process.  If we truly trust in God, that he knows what is best for us and for our children and for His kingdom then we will do His will no matter what.  I believe that too much emphasis is put on what WE think is best for us when ultimately we may have absolutely no idea what is actually "best" for us.  For example, someone may feel like they are not "ready" for children and that is perhaps absolutely true... no one is "ready" or completely prepared to have children.  You cannot be.  Having children is one of the most trying, faith building, strengthening, learning, stretching and growing experiences of your entire existence upon the earth.  And I believe that it continues to be throughout your entire life.  You are never done being a parent... you will always teach you children and they will always teach you.  Having children is also the most rewarding, inspiring, and joyous endeavor you can pursue.
"There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? - To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime.  It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can." - Pres. Brigham Young

FHE Ideas:
Watch with your family Elder Neal L. Anderson's talk "Children"
Discuss how some of our society's trends and beliefs differ from the principles found in the Family Proclamation.  How do our decisions regarding marriage, children and families affect our society and future generations.  It might be fun to draw out on a board to illustrate the influence one person might have on future generations.  It will surprise your kids to see how much their choices and their personal testimonies can influence so many for good.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Preparing for Marriage

It is so important in today's world to teach our children how to prepare for marriage.  Because we know that marriage is so important and families are the foundation of our society and "central to the creators plan" then there is no greater work or decision we make than that of who we will marry.  "Since 1950, the median age at first marriage in the U.S. has increased and is currently at a historic high of 26 years for women and 28 years for men."  This pattern of delayed marriage is affecting the characteristics of the current dating and courtship culture.  "As a result of these changes, a number of pitfalls exist in our current and dating culture including (a) a growing pessimism about marriage and a focus on personal independence before and after marriage, (b) a primary focus on personal financial independence for both men and women, (c) widespread sexual permissiveness, and (d) high rates of couples living together before marriage. (Hawkins, p.4).   In order for our young people to avoid these pitfalls and truly be prepared for marriage there are several approaches and resources we can help them use.  Elder Bednar said  "...You are not on a shopping spree looking for the greatest value with a series of characteristics.  You become what you hope your spouse will be and you'll have a greater likelihood of finding that person.  Perhaps the best way to help way is to guide our young people in becoming something more than the world offers them.  Helping them become true disciples of Jesus Christ with a true testimony of His divine mission and Atoning sacrifice.  This will prepare them for marriage more than anything else.  Elder Holland said, "Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus.  Be a genuine, committed, word and deed Latter-day Saint.  Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does.  You separate dating from discipleship at your peril." This will help them to have the ability to love and the ability to communicate.  These two important skills will help them succeed in their dating relationships and in their marriages.  In order to help young people understand the difference between just hanging out (which is a very common practice among young adults today) and actual dating and courtship, Elder Dallin H. Oaks says that in order for an activity to be considered a date it must included the following guidelines: 1. Planned, 2. Paid for and 3. Paired off.  Interestingly enough these 3 guidelines align perfectly with the three responsibilities of males according to the Proclamation which are to: Preside, Provide and Protect.  Dating is an important time in which young men and women get to practice and prepare to fill their divine roles and responsibilities.  And if this important step is not taken and replaced with "hanging out" or cohabitation where there is no real commitment then their marriage relationships will be very difficult or non existent.

FHE Ideas:
Read the following talks from leaders of the Church and discuss some of the important points and guidelines with your family:
Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk
Elder Lance Wickman
Dating advice from prophets and apostles:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Building a Family of Faith

Faith in our family begins with trusting our Heavenly Father and His promises. We press forward despite challenges, never giving up on ourselves or our children. We teach our family to have faith in Christ by living what we know to be true. Our children learn their most powerful lessons from our faithfulness.

Joseph Smith defined faith "not only as a belief but as 'the principle of action in all intelligent beings' He further emphasized in the fourth article of faith that the first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the Family Proclomation faith (as a principle of action and power) leads the list of nine foundational principles upon which 'successful marriages and families are established and maintained'  (Hawkins, p185).

Social science research has found strong correlations between faith/religious beliefs and practice and marriage and family relationships.  One study concluded that "based on the evidence of the research we have cited, it may be that [religious involvement] provides that strongest force available to reverse the powerful trends that are breaking fathers and children apart." (Hawkins, p.188)  Another qualitative study by Butler and collegues (1998) produced several findings that included 217 religious participants statements of belief that prayer in their marriage enhanced experiences of emotional validation; promoted accountability toward deity; de-escalated negative interactions, contempt, hostility, and emotional reactivity; enhanced relationship behavior; facilitated partner empathy; increased self-change focus; encouraged reconciliation adn problem-solving; and promoted a sense of guidance from God (Butler et al., 2002), (hawkins, p.189).

Quantitative research has also shown "connections between religious belief and involvement and higher marital satisfaction, stability, duration, and increased commitment and fidelity - as well as greater likelihood of future marital happiness" (Hawkins, p 192).  It further describes that "multi-demensional resources of faith seem to serve as valuable coping resources that help familie of faith to navigate the challenges that inevitably find us all."  (Hawkins p.192)

FHE Ideas:
Scripture:  Alma 44:4  Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.
Take time exploring and reading through and watching the videos on this link on 
Discuss with your family ways in which your family can strengthen their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ together.

The Proclamation to the Family: A Guide and a Banner to the nations

"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ."  In 1995, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said "With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history."
Consider with your family these thoughts:  Who was the Proclamation written for?  Why was it written?  What is the warning that is given?

Elder Merrill J. Bateman stated "The Proclamation serves not only as a handbook for family living but also as a compass for family research and advocacy."  The Proclamation calls upon "responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."  We have an obligation and a responsibility to share this information and these declarations with the world.  We also have a responsibility to teach our children this most precious and important doctrine of eternal families.  

Here is a link to the "The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

Listen to Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley as he reads the Proclamation:

FHE Ideas:  
Song: "Families can be Together Forever"
Watch video (link above) of Pres. Hinckley reading the Proclamation for the first time to the world.
Discuss with your family these questions:
Who is the Proclamation written for?  Why was written?  What is the warning that the Lord gives us?
Challenge members of the family to memorize the Proclamation.