What's best for the kids?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Roy
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Roy » 16 May 2013, 16:51

In an ideal world as I understand it, each child would be raised differently according to their diverse needs, strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. The concept of love languages also applies to children.

I try to get to know my children and fulfill their needs. Unfortunately I have my own limitations that create parameters to my parenting style. Because I cannot be all things to my kids, I try to focus on being the best me (as father) that I can. Your children get you! For better or worse, share of yourself with them! I also try to enjoy the ride of discovering new facets and expressions of who my children are.

So in asking about the church, I would say that it depends. You may have children that thrive in the high expectations, internal locus of control, competitive environment that modern Mormonism seems to foster. (I also think that the LDS system tends to be better for YM than for YW) OTOH, I have said to my wife that if any of our children declared themselves to be gay - I would get them as far from the church as possible.
Ray Degraw wrote:It's important to me to raise independent thinkers, even if they end up thinking differently than I do - and the debriefing actually helps me accomplish that.
We participate in multiple Christian churches in our area. I remember after a program at the SDA church (Seventh Day Adventist) I picked my 7 year old up from the childcare and she told me that Saturday was the correct day to go to church as commanded by God in Genesis. DW and I explained that our family and church group goes to church on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. My daughter said, "Oh ok, but they have a good point about the Saturday/Sabbath commandment don’t they?" I told her that it was a very good point and that sometimes people can see things differently and both have very good reasons for why they see it the way that they do.

To be honest, exposing my children to different ways of doing things is kinda scary as the possibility is there for them to reject our way of doing things in favor of another. OTOH, I hope to have smart, well adjusted kids, that are well equipped to process and thrive in diversity.

There was an article in the February Ensign that was very supportive of participating in the youth programs of other churches. The title was “We joined in” and I wrote a post about it here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3867&hilit=+town&start=10
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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mom3
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by mom3 » 16 May 2013, 17:28

What's best for kids? You are.

I was raised as an LDS girl in a devoutly Catholic area. It was good for me to learn with them.

As my kids grew we made deliberate education choices for them. At the time, they weren't religiously driven, but more academically driven. Those choices put my kids in Seventh Day Adventist schools for 6 years. It was wonderful. High School ended up being in a strongly Evangelical school. New insights came from there. Connected in those was an Evangelical theater group. At the time we were avid practicing Mormons. The bridge that those experiences built have taught me and them a lot. I see some things that all religions share in common - in the Christian world - Modesty is a biggy. It is not Mormon alone. I have come to be a better Mormon and a Christian - I hope- by the co mingling.

I know this thread began because of an LDS teaching, but I echo what everyone has mentioned, you get the last word. You help her see the truth you want her to see. Good luck. You will do great, shoulders and all. :smile:
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Ann
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Ann » 16 May 2013, 17:52

MayB wrote:
We live in a warm climate. I recently bought a couple of tank-tops for my 7 year old daughter to wear on very hot days when she wants to play outside or go to the pool. One particularly warm day, I got it out for her to put on. She came down the stairs with tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she had learned about modesty in primary and that this shirt doesn't cover her shoulders and so she can't wear it or Heavenly Father won't love her anymore. I explained to her that there is nothing immodest about her shoulders and that her Heavenly Father will always love her no matter what. She was still hesitant, but now wears the top on occasion.
MayB
There's a new post at feministMormonhousewives about another Friend article targeting immodest little girls - The Orange Shirt. It'll make you want to throw something, but it's heartening to know that there are other moms like you out there.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 17 May 2013, 10:04

MayB wrote:...I know that no one in the church says or does any of these things with bad intentions. I have to remind myself of that often. I guess what I really worry about is what Cadence mentioned.
Cadence wrote: There was just to much crap they had to overcome as they got older.
I've seen this in the lives of my siblings who all have major psychological issues that stem from the way we were raised. I know a lot of it has to do with our parents and their dysfunctional relationship, but some of it also has to do with church culture and expectations. Only 2 of the 5 of us still attend church at all... I've also seen it in my own life and my husband's. For me, I was always told to do the best I could and set high goals for my education and a career until I got married. Then there was this intense pressure to quit school, stay home and have babies...I always felt guilty because I didn't love being at home and I just didn't fit the mold of what a good Mormon woman should be...My husband was made to feel guilty and filthy because of the natural functions of the male body that every teenager experiences. He was not allowed to do things with his friends unless it was church related. His parents frequently left him and his four siblings home alone for hours while they attended the temple. He was not permitted to go on more than one date with any one girl. His mom freaks out if he wears anything other than a white shirt and tie to church or to administer a blessing. The list could go on and on. And now that we have four of their five grandchildren, they try to project some of this onto them...While I understand that the parenting style of me and my husband will have the most influence on our children, I guess I still worry. I worry about everything...
I don't have any children yet but based on observations of many people that were not raised in the Church or that rebelled in a major way and rejected almost everything to do with the Church before they were 21 I think people can easily do much worse than having their children turn out to be average practicing Mormons. Even though I believe many of the specific LDS doctrines are false (and even harmful in the worst cases) as far as not being entirely accurate or necessary I still think the Church really does build character and provide people with a fairly positive support structure more than it hurts people as a whole in terms of learning values like discipline, responsibility, trying to be considerate toward others, etc. better than I would expect most parents to do entirely on their own almost as if they are trying to reinvent the wheel. Personally I think I could have easily gotten into some serious trouble as a teenager if I hadn't been around other active Church members most of the time growing up and had some of the positive LDS role models that I did.

Another thing to consider is that the amount of time children/youth actually spend in Church meetings and activities is not really that much compared to how much time they spend at school and with friends and family the rest of the week. So many of the experiences people associate with the Church are actually coming primarily from other Mormons outside of an official Church setting and in the case of your husband it sounds like a lot of it was simply his parents pushing their own ideas or family traditions that go way above and beyond the official Church doctrines and being extremely strict and austere about some of the ideas that actually have been supported by Church leaders and lessons at some point. I guess I just think it is possible to avoid some of the worst extremes we see in the Church sometimes and take the good with the bad (if you want to) without feeling like you should have to scrap the whole thing ASAP as if that will automatically be better for your children overall.
Last edited by DevilsAdvocate on 17 May 2013, 13:35, edited 1 time in total.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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MayB
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by MayB » 17 May 2013, 13:27

I'm so glad I posted here. All of your insights and suggestions have been enormously helpful. In all of the reading and searching I've been doing, I've been coming across so many negative stories about experiences with children and the church. But I suppose those with bad experiences are bound to be the most vocal. Now that I'm more aware of what aspects of the church have the potential to be damaging or difficult for children, I feel like I'm a bit more prepared to help my children navigate them.
Ann wrote: I just think it is possible to avoid some of the worst extremes we see in the Church sometimes and take the good with the bad (if you want to) without feeling like you should have to scrap the whole thing ASAP as if that will automatically be better for your children overall.

This is what I hope to do. Living in Utah can sometimes make it hard because these extremes sometimes seem quite prevalent. I plan on constantly reminding my children that everything is a choice that they have to make. They don't need to just blindly follow what they hear in church. Their father and I will love them no matter what.

Another question/concern I have is that, if in my own studying and search for truth I decide, for example, that The Book of Mormon is not an actual historical record literally translated from golden plates but rather a 19th century text written by Joseph Smith, do I allow my children to believe what they are taught in church or make my views known? Do I wait until they are older and then gradually begin deeper discussions of church history and what I feel about it? How do I let them build faith and character, while not feeling like a fake?
MayB

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PiperAlpha
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by PiperAlpha » 17 May 2013, 14:31

Parenting gets harder as kids get older and start thinking about what makes sense and what doesn't. Their identities get challenged as they start to experience life and develop their thoughts.

That's why they need loving parents to reassure them as they go. My kids are 20, 18, 14 and 10.

I am glad they have learned they can come talk to dad about anything. And we establish that not everything they hear in church comes from God. Some of our best talks that drive us closer as a family come from talking about what they experience at church that is not right. I got to the point I finally told the bishop I had to be present at every conference with my daughters. My girls don't remember the topics being discussed at that time, but they do remember dad cared enough about them to stick up and protect them and be by their side, and not give up by just yanking them out of the program where they had friends and other positive influences.

I think the kids sense some teachings are not right but they are so trusting of primary and YM/YW leaders. I think it helps them to see they shouldn't place so much trust in the arm of flesh. But it can be challenging to know how to say that to young ones in a way they can process it.

Mostly, I think they need to know their divine worth and that mom and dad love them. They need to feel loved.
“As individually and collectively we increase our knowledge, acceptance, and application of gospel principles, we become less dependent on Church programs. Our lives become gospel centered.”
Elder Ronald E. Poelman, General Conference Oct 1984

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 20 May 2013, 09:15

MayB wrote:...Now that I'm more aware of what aspects of the church have the potential to be damaging or difficult for children, I feel like I'm a bit more prepared to help my children navigate them...I plan on constantly reminding my children that everything is a choice that they have to make. They don't need to just blindly follow what they hear in church....Another question/concern I have is that, if in my own studying and search for truth I decide, for example, that The Book of Mormon is not an actual historical record literally translated from golden plates but rather a 19th century text written by Joseph Smith, do I allow my children to believe what they are taught in church or make my views known? Do I wait until they are older and then gradually begin deeper discussions of church history and what I feel about it? How do I let them build faith and character, while not feeling like a fake?
That's a tough dilemma to face; I would be interested to hear what Ray, Roy, hawkgrrrl, Orson, SilentDawning, or others here have to say about that. I'm not sure what I would do in that case but I think I would have a hard time not admitting that I don't really believe the BoM is historical if someone specifically asked me. Most of the time it doesn't come up and the main things I hear about from other members including my parents are temples, the WoW, tithing, priesthood, callings, etc. as if all this is already true and it's not like they are asking for my opinion about it if I don't want to volunteer it.
"Truth is what works." - William James

Roy
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Roy » 20 May 2013, 10:48

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
MayB wrote:...Now that I'm more aware of what aspects of the church have the potential to be damaging or difficult for children, I feel like I'm a bit more prepared to help my children navigate them...I plan on constantly reminding my children that everything is a choice that they have to make. They don't need to just blindly follow what they hear in church....Another question/concern I have is that, if in my own studying and search for truth I decide, for example, that The Book of Mormon is not an actual historical record literally translated from golden plates but rather a 19th century text written by Joseph Smith, do I allow my children to believe what they are taught in church or make my views known? Do I wait until they are older and then gradually begin deeper discussions of church history and what I feel about it? How do I let them build faith and character, while not feeling like a fake?
That's a tough dilemma to face; I would be interested to hear what Ray, Roy, hawkgrrrl, Orson, SilentDawning, or others here have to say about that. I'm not sure what I would do in that case but I think I would have a hard time not admitting that I don't really believe the BoM is historical if someone specifically asked me. Most of the time it doesn't come up and the main things I hear about from other members including my parents are temples, the WoW, tithing, priesthood, callings, etc. as if all this is already true and it's not like they are asking for my opinion about it if I don't want to volunteer it.
I have told my children that we will always answer their questions honestly to the best of our ability. But this doesn't necessarily mean that we spill the beans. When Dd asked us about Santa Clause, I asked her what she thought and then reinforced her opinion without actually saying what I believe. When Dd wrote me a note in SM that said that JS was a great man, I wrote back saying that I agree and that I know he did many great things. It's the balance between being honest and gauging what they are prepared for and interested in knowing.

Recently Dd has been commenting on seeing good people in movies drink wine. I have told her that many good people choose to drink wine but in our family and in our church we do not. I plan to do the FHE tonight on "Our body is a temple" and emphasize that the principle is to honor and respect our bodies as the home of our divine spirit. In our church and our family we have certain expressions of our desire to show honor and respect for our bodies (WoW, Modesty [DW is the enforcer of modesty and I'm not going to fight about it, but i do hope to tie the practice of modesty back to the princple], Exercise, Education). Other people may have different expressions and that is ok.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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MayB
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by MayB » 20 May 2013, 15:11

Roy wrote:I have told my children that we will always answer their questions honestly to the best of our ability. But this doesn't necessarily mean that we spill the beans. When Dd asked us about Santa Clause, I asked her what she thought and then reinforced her opinion without actually saying what I believe. When Dd wrote me a note in SM that said that JS was a great man, I wrote back saying that I agree and that I know he did many great things. It's the balance between being honest and gauging what they are prepared for and interested in knowing.
I like this approach Roy. Thanks for sharing.
Yesterday, as we were leaving for church, our 7 year old daughter observed a lot of cars still in the parking lot here at our townhouse complex. She remarked that a lot of people aren't going to church on Sunday like they should. We had a nice little discussion about how people have many different belief systems and that not going to church doesn't mean that they are bad people or that what they believe is necessarily wrong. It's just different from what we believe.
Then after church, my 9 year old was upset. I mentioned before that the idea of going on a mission currently terrifies him and he doesn't understand how anyone could possibly want to leave their home and family for two years. Well, they had some sort of lesson on serving missions in primary and he said he was feeling pressured into saying he was going to go on a mission but he doesn't want to. I reassured him that serving a mission is a choice, that plenty of good men hadn't served missions, and that he has plenty of time to make that decision. Hopefully small conversations like these will help my kids think more about religion and grow up being actively involved in their own way without just blindly following the culture of the church. Does that make sense?
With nearly all of our family being TBM in every sense of the expression, I'm trying to view our religion more as a part of our heritage. Something that has been extremely important and valuable to our families for generations. It's helping me to find the good in it.
MayB

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 May 2013, 09:53

Great responses to your children's comments and great way to look at the overall picture.

If you read my last Sunday School lesson summary, you know that I told the students I always would be honest with them about how I see things - emphasizing each time that it is the Gospel according to Ray and that I admit fully I might be wrong. I've stuck to that, but I also have told them more than once when they made a comment that I appreciate the new way to look at the question and thanked them for making me think about it a little differently.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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