Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Am I Giving My Child A Persecution Complex?

The Question:
My question for you is hard for me to put succinctly, but it's something that I'd really like to see discussed a little bit.
As my kids have been getting older, we've been able to start teaching them some more interesting things in Family Home Evening.  Recently we've talked about church history, and the Plan of Salvation, for example.  Discussing these kinds of topics naturally brings us to discussions of how our church is different from other churches, and how members of our church have been persecuted because of their beliefs.  As these things come up, I can see my kids processing these ideas in their sweet little minds, and something about the looks on their faces just breaks my heart.  Suddenly it dawned on me that I am teaching them that they will be persecuted.  And I just feel so strangely conflicted about that.  

Am I setting them up with a persecution complex?  Should I let them discover persecution by their own experience?  Am I teaching them to be ashamed of themselves and their faith by teaching them that they are different?  I just want my kids to be strong and confident as well as faithful and obedient, and something about the looks on their faces has me questioning what lessons were being communicated.  It felt like I was exposing them to an evil that they shouldn't have to face yet. What do you think?

The Answer:
 Dear Tara,
That's really an interesting question--and one I'd never really thought about.   As mothers, it's our natural instinct to protect our children.  But when you think about it, we start  preparing them for the injustices of life very early.  We tell them stories of Cinderella, Snow White and The Ugly Duckling.  And, of course, the scriptures are filled with stories of the faithful who stood up to persecution.
Without really thinking about it, I guess I've always taught my children that they might be persecuted for their beliefs and standards but they'll be in good company.   Over the years, each of my children have had a handful of experiences with it---almost always in the context of living their standards.  For example, most of them have had to tell a group of friends that they wouldn't watch a certain movie or participate in certain activities.  Around sixth grade when lots of kids are pairing off and "going out", mine have had to explain that they won't do this.  I really love it when they have these experiences, when they start to feel that pressure.   I'm especially proud when they have the courage to say, "This is something I won't do"" rather than "My parents won't allow it." 
They feel good when they make these stands and they discover for themselves that pleasing God is better than pleasing their friends.  They distinguish themselves as true followers.   
When it comes to outright persecution about their religion, for us it's been rare.  When our son Brian was in first grade, he came home from school one day and announced that his best friend Cody "is never allowed to play with me again because I'm a Mormon."    It turned out that Cody's dad was a minister and very antagonistic toward our church.  True to his word, Cody never did play with Brian.   It was a pretty harsh experience but Brian didn't develop a persecution complex.  I think he just learned early about misunderstanding and prejudice.
I think the discussions you've had with your children are good.  Teach them that, yes, they might encounter persecution in their life but that's alright.  You hope they'll be strong and valiant when it comes.  These kinds of resolves build confidence.  And the first time they have to really stand up for their beliefs, they'll learn something great about themselves--something they couldn't find out without that opposition.
All my love,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interview for Bloom

Visit Bloom today to see an interview with Jane about raising a large family!  If you haven't been by Bloom before, stay and read for a while.  You're in for a treat!  Thanks Anne and Emily for the chance to post on your beautiful blog.  Read the interview here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do You Ever Have Down Days?

The Question:
Dear Jane,

Do you ever have days where you don't want to be a mom and just veg out?  What do you do?  I have awesome kids, but sometimes I am just tired and I just want to let my hair down, but with three boys 4, 2 and 2 months, it gets too out of control.  Do you ever want to hang out in jammies and do whatever?  I feel I have to always be doing something or something is happening that's not suppose to.


The Answer:
Dear Friend,
Yes.  Absolutely yes.  Every so often throughout all of my childbearing years, I would wake up too tired to face my life.  It took me a long time to recognize this.  I would try to push myself through it (because what else can you do?) until my mother one day said something like:  "Have you ever noticed how sometimes you just have a very slow, worn out day?"  She lived 800 miles away so I wondered how she knew.  "Yes!"  I replied in utter shock.  She went on to mention some of the symptoms:  a lazy lethargic feeling, not really sick but sometimes kind of hoarse, unmotivated, a little down.  "Yes, yes, yes,"  I replied.  She said, "You know what I used to do on those days?"  "What?!!"  I cried.  "Nothing,"  she said.  "I canceled everything.  I stayed in my pajamas.  I unplugged the phone.  I let the kids stay in their pajamas.  If someone dropped by, I opened the door a crack and told them I wasn't feeling well.   I read or watched tv and let the world fall down around me."    Wow.  This was good news.
I started tracking my down days.  They seemed to often follow a very stressful few days--such as the Standards Night I was in charge of or the Road Show I had to direct.  But I came to recognize the day almost before my eyes opened.  And I made it a policy to follow my mom's advice--to just be kind to myself.  "Bring home pizza,"  I'd tell my husband, "we're functioning on low today."
And for me, it never really extended into days and days.  Usually the next day, I'd be ready to roll again and actually rejuvenated by my self-imposed break from life. 
How (I'm sure you're asking) did I manage to take a day off with a houseful of little children?  I'm not sure.  I'm not a person who normally lays around all day, so maybe they sensed that something was up.  Maybe they didn't question it because after all, they got to eat all the cold cereal they wanted all day.  Maybe they enjoyed the fact that I wasn't running around cleaning and cooking and ordering them to pick things up--but just fixed and immobile on the couch.   I don't remember ever farming them out on those days.  We just all vegged out together.
And one other thing--don't read books on child-rearing or self-improvement while you're doing this.  Just read a good clean novel or watch a tear jerker and if at all possible, have a good cry.  The whole thing can be very renewing to the soul.
So there you have it--the truth about how I survived 99 months of pregnancy, 11 years of nursing and children 24-7 for 29 years and counting.  We holed up once in a while and went into slow motion.  And it didn't hurt anything.
I hope this little confession from my mother to me to you---is helpful.  Be kind to yourself.
All my love,