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.

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.