To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on my role as a teacher lately, not only as a teacher in a professional or church setting, but as a mother. I watched this “Happy Families” message the other day and it struck me how simply this mother taught her children from a very young age and the fruits that it bore.

After watching it, I began to invite my older daughters again to help me in the kitchen (something I had done before, but not continued) and they were thrilled to help me make smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and salads – simple things, but they were so happy to help. Actually, I ask one at a time to help (taking turns helping cook and play with the baby) and that seems to make things go a little more smoothly in my house.

I also have been trying to teach the baby (she’s 16 months old) to help as well. Every time we clean up toys, I show her where the toys go and give SO much praise if she can catch on to the simple task of putting the items in the bin. I’ve also started to have her help with the laundry. I place the wet clothes from the wash into a basket and she puts them in the dryer for me (and of course I praise her for her good work and efforts).

But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been reviewing my role to be a teacher of the gospel in the home. I was a full-time seminary teacher for seven years and so I’ve always known that I could teach them, but for some reason, I thought that it was my hubby’s role to be the teacher (you know as the “presider”, see the Family Proclamation). I always assumed that we’d share the teaching responsibilities, (and in some ways we do) but I guess I’ve been waiting for him to get up and take charge with family scripture study, etc. Please understand, my husband is a good man, but I’ve been the one to remind the family to pray, read, and have FHE on a consistent basis.

So I’ve been pondering a lot lately if I am usurping a role that will help him to grow as I continue to insist on religious family activities. I’m not sure. But the more I insist on the activities, the more he becomes involved – yay!

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my role as a mother as the primary nurturer of our family is that of teacher and that it shouldn’t be one that I can neglect or delegate away or my children won’t learn basic things like laundry or dishes or meal prep or spiritual things like having a personal relationship with the Lord. And, I’ve been wondering if other women in the church are having the same struggle.

Years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on the Spirituality of women and conducted some primary research to see how confident LDS women felt in giving talks, teaching lessons, and speaking about gospel doctrine (making comments in class, etc). The results were that women who had experience with testifying (i.e. serving a mission) or daily experiences with personal study of the scriptures were much more likely to feel confident discussing the gospel, and I assume feel much more confident teaching the gospel at home. Well, maybe we can’t be a missionary now, but we can have daily experiences in the scriptures!

Right before I had my baby, a dear friend asked me for ideas on how to study the scriptures. I began to compile some ideas, which I will now post as these ideas about teaching and studying are becoming more fresh and clear. To begin the next several posts, I want to quote from a talk by Elder Bednar which discusses the VITAL need for teaching in the home.

Brothers and sisters, think of the total amount of time in a week devoted to doctrinally based, spirit-filled instruction for our young people through the programs of the Church. Let’s assume they go to seminary. That might yield three or four hours of quality instruction during the course of the week. What would they receive in church on Sunday? Thirty minutes in sacrament meeting; thirty minutes in Sunday School; and thirty minutes in Young Men’s, Young Women’s, or Gospel Doctrine. A total of maybe five, six, or seven hours for the entire week, if we are optimistic. Think of the evil influences in the world. Will the Church and its programs alone safeguard you and me and our children in an increasingly wicked world? The answer is no. Please do not misunderstand this statement–I would not trust my children exclusively to the programs of the Church. I love the Church, but the Church operates as a support to you and to me as we create a home that is a house of learning. First and foremost, the responsibility is ours as parents to create a Christ-centered, spirit-filled home environment where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify to our children. If they know the why, they will quickly learn the how.

Take a look a the full talk – Teach them to Understand from a  1998 (then) Rick’s College Education Week address. I have sent it to my husband and we are going to study it together and try to find ways to make our home a better place of gospel learning.mormonad-unlimited-text-messages-1118424-gallery

Finally, I’ll leave with a couple of ideas for daily personal scripture study and a challenge. My sister is an amazing spiritual woman. When she had a lot of young’ins running around the home, she went to the distribution center and picked up a bunch of the cheapy copies of the Book of Mormon and placed one in every room in her house (bathroom included). Then, if she found herself with a moment or two in the bustle of mommy life, she would read a verse or two. She said that just by giving those few minutes of time, she had given a sacrifice to God and was taught from the scriptures.

Another idea is to listen to the scriptures (digital formats can be found here) while you are folding clothes, doing dishes, or being a taxi cab.

The challenge is to study this week. Everyday, study something in the scriptures (not someone’s thoughts of the scriptures) and ask the Lord to teach you. I know He will bless us in this endeavor in our own lives and we will find ways to teach our children as well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, ideas, experiences or scripture reading tips!

Doing the Most Noble Work in a Noble Way

“Build boys, so you won’t have to fix men”

(I found this quote from my friend Joyce, thanks Radost!)

I found an article that recounted the story about Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley.   Her son Richard… had to stay after school for some kind of grade-school disciplining. Always awaiting the children’s arrival from school each day, Sister Hinckley was immediately lonely when her son did not walk in the door with the others. The next thing anyone knew, she appeared from out of nowhere at the young penitent’s classroom, saying to a startled teacher, ‘You can do anything you want to this boy all day long, but after 3:00 p.m. he’s mine.’

Can you imagine how that boy felt?  How his self-esteem would grow, knowing that he was valued and appreciated by his mother?

Another daughter (from the same article) said, She loved having us home after school and couldn’t wait for summer vacation to arrive. Other mothers were only too happy to see school start again in the fall, but not Mom—she would weep! She would grieve that we were leaving her.

Again, how would those children feel?  It’s such a stark difference from what I hear from parents everyday.  Things that I am guilty myself of sometimes saying.

How might a child feel if they were present when a parent said, “I can’t wait to get rid of her/him for a while,” even if that statement is in jest?

How might a child feel when they are made to feel that they are a constant source of annoyance?

In the book of Isaiah, there is a prophecy that the Women of Israel will do horrible things to their children during the siege of Jerusalem (I won’t bother to put the scripture here, just believe me when I say, it’s horrific).  The prophet laments, questioning, “how can these beautiful women come to the point where they hate their husbands and do these terrible things to their children?”

Unfortunately, a few books later, the prophecy (inevitably) comes true.

Sometimes I wonder if we figuratively do these rotten things to our children when we desire to get rid of them so easily.  When we joke about what a burden they are.  Are we selling our children’s birthright to loving parents?

It takes time and effort to love and nurture.  In order to be a truly great and effective parent, we must learn to value our children and our roles as parents.

That video was part of a talk from April Conference, 2010, by Elder Hales, as is the following excerpt;

The greatest missionary work we will ever do will be in our homes. Our homes, quorums, and classes are part of the mission field. Our children and grandchildren are our most important investigators.

The greatest family history work that we will do will be within our own homes. It is the spiritual preparation of our children in the rising generation that will, through their obedience, ensure the eternal preservation and perpetuation of our families for the coming generations.

The greatest rescue, the greatest activation will be in our homes. If someone in your family is wandering in strange paths, you are a rescuer, engaged in the greatest rescue effort the Church has ever known. I testify from personal experience: There is no failure except in giving up. It is never too early or too late to begin. Do not worry about what has happened in the past. Pick up the phone. Write a note. Make a visit. Extend the invitation to come home. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. Your child is Heavenly Father’s child. You are about His work. He has promised to gather His children, and He is with you.

The greatest faith we have will be within our homes as we remain strong in the trials and tribulations of parenthood. To a small group of mothers, President Monson recently said, “Sometimes we are too quick to judge the effect of our successes and failures.” May I add, don’t look at today’s trials as eternal. Heavenly Father does His work in the long term. “There is much which lieth in futurity,” the Prophet Joseph Smith said. “Therefore, . . . let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:15, 17).

The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.

May we come to understand that children are an heritage (aka inheritance) of the Lord (Psalm 127: 3).