Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Ways to Strengthen Children's Testimony of Motherhood & Fatherhood


In society and in media, children today hear a lot of messages that degrade Motherhood and Fatherhood.

When my children were pretty little, I remember letting them watch an "educational" cartoon on PBS one afternoon while I made dinner.  Halfway through the show, I heard the characters complaining because their Mother, who normally worked as a public servant, was suddenly, and happily, serving as a full-time, stay-home Mother.  The family "thought it was creepy" that the Mother was finding so much joy in "staying home" and "baking cookies."  From what I could tell, she was "too happy" being home taking care of the family, and that, for some reason wasn't right.  By the end of the segment, the family was begging the Mother to go back to her day job.

Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed that this program which was supposed to teach my children correct word usage, was taking it into their own hands to color the way my children feel about being a stay-at-home Mother.  I had the children turn the show off and explained to them what it was that bothered me...what it was that was untrue about the show.  The lies that it was trying to sell them about Motherhood.

Since that time, I have actively sought after ways to ensure that the message my children receive about what it means to be a Father or Mother is a positive one.  A true one.

This isn't easy in a world so saturated by media and wrong thinking, which is why I employ all of the ways that I can to teach my children these important truths.  Here are some things that I have done over the years with my children to help them grow to love and someday embrace the roles of father and mother:



1.  Teach children the truth about who they are:  I often like to teach my kids that they aren't just children...they are training to grow into adults.  They will be many great things and do many great things in their lives, but the most important thing they will ever be/do (by the grace of God!) is become a Mother or a Father and have a family of their own. Of course, we use The Family: a Proclamation to the World to teach them these truths. (I share most of our formal lessons right here.)

2.  Nurture their natural inclinations to nurture:  Being a Mother or Father, means nurturing, providing for, and serving others.  All people can do these things, especially if those natural feelings are encouraged, allowed to flourish, and taught by example.  I love seeing my children help and serve around the house and finding joy in these roles from an early age.

3.  Find a way to remind them daily that Motherhood & Fatherhood are innate characteristics for them to explore and build upon: As I started letting my children learn to cook, clean, earn and manage their own money, and serve others, I started to see that my children weren't babies, they were actually little Mommies and Daddies in embryo.  So, I told them that.  And somewhere along the lines, I just started calling my girls "little Mamas" as that is what they are to me.  And I always point out to my son the attributes that I see him demonstrate that will make him a great father some day.  A day probably does not pass by that I don't make mention that this is their beautiful destiny, one for which they should always strive and work toward.



4.  Express Joy is Motherhood/Fatherhood:  Whenever I feel joy in Motherhood, I tell my children.  I tell them how they bring me happiness...how watching them grow is so fun...how even on hard days, I know I am where Heavenly Father wants me to be.  I share how my Mother sacrificed for me and how much I appreciate the work she did for me when I was young.  This is my testimony and I do not let it go unspoken.  I even keep a journal for each of my children started the moment I know I'm pregnant.  I tell them all of the precious moments, share all of the details, good, bad, hard, and sticky with them...and through it all I think they can see the truth bout Motherhood, through my eyes. (I also take lots of candid photos like the ones below of me reasoning with my child.)







5.  Express Joy in Child-bearing:  My kids want me to have another baby.  We've been trying for a while now with no positive reading on the stick, so to speak.  But I trust the Lord and I know he knows what's best.  When my kids ask me if we're going to have another baby, I say, I certainly hope so, because I love children and we all would be so happy to add to our family.  When I was younger, I didn't appreciate the idea of being pregnant.  Popular media had colored my opinions about childbirth to think that it was a completely unpleasant experience.  While bearing children is certainly no day at the spa, what the world conveniently neglects to mention is the joy that comes from knowing you're doing something so totally amazing...you're bringing something into this world that didn't exist before, in all the history of the world.  When I was newly pregnant with my 1st child, my sister was pregnant with her 5th.  I remember speaking with her over the phone one lazy afternoon after work.  She was laying down on the couch telling me how much she LOVED being pregnant.  I thought she was batty at the time, but years later, having experienced it all first-hand, I understand what she meant.  For some of us, pregnancy is really life-threatening...and still there are people even in that situation who would say, they wouldn't trade the act of giving birth for anything in the world.  There is joy in bearing children.  There are things that you cannot learn by any other means.  It's a messy process, but there is joy in it as well.  We do our children a disservice if we don't talk with them about the good, the hard, and the wonderful of using your body in this way, if you are able to do so.  

I teach them that even if bearing children is withheld from us in this life, we are still Mothers or Fathers in our souls and can use our nurturing instincts and skills to help others.



6.  Carefully select media that celebrates Motherhood, Fatherhood, and the Family.  For this, you might have to go back in time to find shows that do not degrade Motherhood or paint a picture of the doofus Dad, but it IS possible.  And thanks to the Lord, in His wisdom, we can access old shows like this today via the internet on special order DVD, etc.  There are also many Mormon Messages that show mothers and fathers and families in a positive light right at our fingertips.  If you can wean children off of popular media and introduce them to wholesome media early on, they are more likely to give it a chance and even love it.  I am also careful to talk with my children about things other adults might say about parenthood in front of them.  Jokes or snide remarks about the role of mother or father (or husband and wife) are not welcome in my house.



7.  Tell your children that you love your job.  Yes, Motherhood is a job.  Before I had children, I used to work in the best job ever (that I knew of).  I worked as a producer for TV and radio outlets which took me to exciting places, allowed me to meet famous people, and gave me a front row to history.  I loved it.  I worked hard to get into it.  But when I became pregnant, I had no problem walking away from it, because I always knew I wanted to be a stay-home Mom.  Thankfully, I had the example of my Mother before me who, although had the capability of working, chose to stay home instead.  I followed her example, because I saw first-hand that the fruits of her labors were good.  My life was the outcome of her sacrifice.  At first it was completely an act of faith.  But years into the process, I can now firmly say that I know I have the best job ever.  Raising children, caring for my husband, and creating a home where the spirit can dwell is my job.  It's my profession.  I work hard at it and I'm proud of it.

8.  Speak of your profession fondly and proudly.  I think the language we use to describe the job we do as Mothers (and Fathers) needs to change a little.  I admit that sometimes I get that question, "Do you work?  Or do you stay home?"  I know what the person means, but I wish they'd phrase it better.  I want women to realize and acknowledge that ALL WOMEN WORK.  I do my work at home, and I'm lucky/blessed to be able to do so.  I could also have a career...but home is where I choose to do my life's work.  The work that women do is important to the world.  Not every woman will be able to bear children in this life.  Not every woman will be able to work full-time in the home either.  We are all trying our best.  The work women do inside and outside of the home matters.  As a stay-at-home, I want to answer that question differently..."What do you do?"  I raise the future generation to be leaders in their homes, community and world.  I am raising the next generation of Mothers and Fathers.



9.  Encourage Mothers and Fathers to become educated.  I use my education every day as a mother.  I'm so glad I went to college and earned two bachelor degrees.  There was never a question that I would go to college.  From an early age, my parents talked about college like it was a certainty on my path, and so it was.  After I graduated with my undergrad and worked for a while, I considered other career choices than my original plan of TV journalism.  I was accepted into a Master's program for teaching, and I scored well on the LSAT.  But after careful consideration, I realized that becoming a lawyer was not something that would fit well with my plans for becoming a stay-at-home Mother some day (as I'd have to pay it off), and I wasn't as jazzed about becoming a teacher as I thought I was.  So I made the choice to continue on my current career path, and I'm very happy about where it lead me.  Mother and Fathers can do so many things.  I enjoy using my professional skills from time to time, because it makes me happy, but I also use so much of what I learned in my college and career days as a Mother every day. I enjoy telling my kids about the life I had before becoming their Mom.  Some day, they might even believe me! :)  But more than that, I encourage them to learn skills and becoming educated in something (s) that they absolutely love.  Working, practicing, learning a trade or a craft will make them better parents some day and it will make them happier, more capable adults who can pass those skills on to their children.



10.  Teach Children how the Family Proclamation Applies to them personally. I love the Family Proclamation because it has helped me over the years to come to understand the importance of family and helped me know my role in helping my family grow and thrive.  I am not perfect at it.  Not by a long shot.  I need reminders of what I am supposed to be doing.  I need understanding of how I fit into the Lords plan.  When I listen too much to the world's ideas of family, I start to feel invisible, but when I keep my eyes on God's plan for the family as found in the Family Proclamation, I know that I am right where he wants me to be, there is a clear path ahead of me, in which I can find much joy.



This post is part of a blogger round-up with these fabulous bloggers! Please visit each (by clicking on the links below) to read what they are sharing about the divine roles of fathers and mothers.

Jocelyn @ We Talk of Christ | Karyn @ Teach Beside Me | Kerry @ My Random Sampler |
Heidi @ One Creative Mommy | Mandy @ A Bliss Complete | Montserrat @ Cranial Hiccups |

The Divine Roles of Fathers and Mothers - a round up of posts by these fabulous bloggers!

3 comments:

  1. Fantastic post, Jocelyn! I love your ideas to encourage future mothers and fathers. Pinning!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this lovely post; I am going to share it with my children. You have some great points and ideas and I think we should all invest time teaching our children the many things that you mentioned. I had to work for a few years on and off while having my family. I loved best being a stay at home Mom. Thus far all my daughters and my daughter in laws have have been blessed to be able to be a stay at home mother.
    Loved this one! Hugs~

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  3. Great post, Jocelyn. There is so much emphasis anymore on things that are temporary and fleeting and teachings of importance can be pushed aside. Thanks for your thoughts for young mothers and fathers to continue to not only talk about the importance of parenting but remembering to provide an example.

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