By Alan on Mar 15 in Blog tagged "hmmm", "uh huh", admiration, agree to disagree, air grievances, anger, arguments, avoid conflict, being defensive, being selfish, calm yourself, comments, communication, compromise, conflict, conflicts, contempt, criticism, denying responsibility, disagreeing, distance, divorce, emotions, fight, fights, fragile, get really mad, happiness, I see, insults, interactiong, jogging, laughter, listen, making excuses, marriage, marriage is positive, name calling, paying compliments, peacemaking, relationship, repairing the damage, resolve, shouting matches, smiling, talking things out, touching, trust, validationg, volatile, what makes marriage work, wisdom | Comments Off
What Makes Marriage Work?
It’s how you resolve conflict that matters most.
Research indicates you can get really mad or avoid conflict altogether. But the positivity must outweigh the negativity by five to one.
If you are worried about the future of your marriage or relationship, you have plenty of company. There’s no denying that this is a frightening time for couples. More than half of all first marriages end in divorce; 60 percent of second marriages fail. What makes the numbers even more disturbing is that no one seems to understand why our marriages have become so fragile.
In pursuit of the truth about what tears a marriage apart or binds it together, I have found that much of the conventional wisdom–even among marital therapists–is either misguided or dead wrong. For example, some marital patterns that even professionals often take as a sign of a problem–such as having intense fights or avoiding conflict altogether–I have found can signify highly successful adjustments that will keep a couple together. Fighting, when it airs grievances and complaints, can be one of the healthiest things a couple can do for their relationship.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my years of research into marital relationships–having interviewed and studied more than 200 couples over 20 years–it is that a lasting marriage results from a couple’s ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship. Many couples tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness and believe the claim “we never fight” is a sign of marital health. But I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That’s how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage.
Although there are other dimensions that are telling about a union, the intensity of argument seems to bring out a marriage’s true colors. To classify a marriage, in my lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, I look at the frequency of fights, the facial expressions and physiological responses (such as pulse rate and amount of sweating) of both partners during their confrontations, as well as what they say to each other and in what tone of voice they interact verbally.
But there’s much more to a successful relationship than knowing how to fight well. Not all stable couples resolve conflicts in the same way, nor do they mean the same thing by “resolving” their conflict. In fact, I have found that there are three different styles of problem solving into which healthy marriages tend to settle:
o Validating. Couples compromise often and calmly work out their problems to mutual satisfaction as they arise.
o Volatile. Conflict erupts often, resulting in passionate disputes.
o Conflict-avoiding. Couples agree to disagree, rarely confronting their differences head-on.
Previously, many psychologists might have considered conflict-avoiding and volatile marriages to be destructive. But my research suggests that all three styles are equally stable and bode equally well for the marriage’s future.
“HEALTHY” MARRIAGE STYLES
One of the first things to go in a marriage is politeness. As laughter and validation disappear, criticism and pain well up. Your attempts to get communication back on track seem useless, and partners become lost in hostile and negative thoughts and feelings. Yet here’s the surprise: There are couples whose fights are as deafening as thunder yet who have long-lasting, happy relationships.
The following three newly married couples accurately illustrate the three distinct styles of marriage.
Bert and Betty, both 30, both came from families that weren’t very communicative, and they were determined to make communication a priority in their relationship. Although they squabbled occasionally, they usually addressed their differences before their anger boiled over. Rather than engaging in shouting matches, they dealt with their disagreements by having “conferences” in which each aired his or her perspective. Usually, they were able to arrive at a compromise.
Max 40, and Anita, 25, admitted that they quarreled far more than the average couple. They also tended to interrupt each other and defend their own point of view rather than listen to what their partner was expressing. Eventually, however, they would reach some sort of accord. Despite their frequent tension, however, they seemed to take much delight in each other.
Joe, 29, and Sheila, 27, said they thought alike about almost everything and felt “an instant comfort” from the start. Although they spent a good deal of time apart, they still enjoyed each other’s company and fought very rarely. When tension did arise, both considered solo jogging more helpful in soothing the waters than talking things out or arguing.
Not surprisingly, Bert and Betty were still happily married four years after I’d first interviewed them. However, so were Max and Anita, as well as Joe and Sheila. Marriages like Bert and Betty’s, though, which emphasize communication and compromise, have long been held up as the ideal. Even when discussing a hot topic, they display a lot of ease and calm, and have a keen ability to listen to and understand each other’s emotions.
That’s why I call such couples “validators”: In the midst of disagreement they still let their partners know that they consider his or her emotions valid, even if they don’t agree with them. This expression of mutual respect tends to limit the number of arguments couples need to have.
Anita and Max take a different approach to squabbling than do Bert and Betty, yet their marriage remained just as solid over time. How can people who seem to thrive on skirmishes live happily together? The truth is that not every couple who fights this frequently has a stable marriage. But we call those who do “volatile.” Such couples fight on a grand scale and have an even grander time making up.
More than the other types, volatile couples see themselves as equals. They are independent sorts who believe that marriage should emphasize and strengthen their individuality. Indeed, they are very open with each other about their feelings–both positive and negative. These marriages tend to be passionate and exciting, as if the marital punch has been spiked with danger.
Moving from a volatile to an avoidant style of marriage, like Joe and Sheila’s, is like leaving the tumult of a hurricane for the placid waters of a summer lake. Not much seems to happen in this type of marriage. A more accurate name for them is “conflict minimizers,” because they make light of their differences rather than resolving them. This type of successful coupling flies in the face of conventional wisdom that links marital stability to skillful “talking things out.”
It may well be that these different types of couples could glean a lot from each other’s approach–for example, the volatile couple learning to ignore some conflicts and the avoidant one learning how to compromise. But the prognosis for these three types of marriage is quite positive–they are each healthy adaptations to living intimately with another human being.
THE ECOLOGY OF MARRIAGE
The balance between negativity and positivity appears to be the key dynamic in what amounts to the emotional ecology of every marriage. There seems to be some kind of thermostat operating in healthy marriages that regulates this balance. For example, when partners get contemptuous, they correct it with lots of positivity–not necessarily right away, but sometime soon.
What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Volatile couples, for example, stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of love and passion. But by balance I do not mean a 50-50 equilibrium.
As part of my research I carefully charted the amount of time couples spent fighting versus interacting positively–touching, smiling, paying compliments, laughing, etc. Across the board I found there was a very specific ratio that exists between the amount of positivity and negativity in a stable marriage, whether it is marked by validation, volatility, or conflict avoidance.That magic ratio is 5 to 1. As long as there is five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there is negative, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. In contrast, those couples who were heading for divorce were doing far too little on the positive side to compensate for the growing negativity between them.
WARNING SIGNS: THE FOUR HORSEMEN
If you are in the middle of a troubled marriage, it can seem that your predicament is nearly impossible to sort out. But in fact unhappy marriages do resemble each other in one overriding way: they followed the same, specific, downward spiral before coming to a sad end. Being able to predict what emotions and reactions lead a couple into trouble is crucial to improving a marriage’s chances. By pinpointing how marriages destabilize, I believe couples will be able to find their way back to the happiness they felt when their marital adventure began.
The first cascade a couple hits as they tumble down the marital rapids is comprised of the “Four Horsemen”–four disastrous ways of interacting that sabotage your attempts to communicate with your partner. As these behaviors become more and more entrenched, husband and wife focus increasingly on the escalating sense of negativity and tension in their marriage. Eventually they become deaf to each other’s efforts at peacemaking. As each new horseman arrives, he paves the way for the next, each insidiously overriding a marriage that started out full of promise.
THE FIRST HORSEMAN: CRITICISM
When Eric and Pamela married fresh out of college, it soon became clear that they had different notions of what frugality meant. Pamela found herself complaining about Eric’s spending habits, yet as time passed she found that her comments did not lead to any change on her husband’s part. Rather, something potentially damaging to their marriage soon began occurring: instead of complaining about his actions, she began to criticize him.
On the surface, there may not seem to be much difference between complaining and criticizing. But criticizing involves attacking someone’s personality or character rather than a specific behavior, usually with blame. When Pamela said things like “You always think about yourself,” she assaulted Eric, not just his actions, and blamed him for being selfish.
Since few couples can completely avoid criticizing each other now and then, the first horseman often takes up long-term residence even in relatively healthy marriages. One reason is that criticizing is just a short hop beyond complaining, which is actually one of the healthiest activities that can occur in a marriage. Expressing anger and disagreement makes the marriage stronger in the long run than suppressing the complaint.
The trouble begins when you feel that your complaints go unheeded and your spouse repeats the offending habits. Over time, it becomes more and more likely that your complaints will pick up steam. With each successive complaint you’re likely to throw in your inventory of prior, unresolved grievances. Eventually you begin blaming your partner and being critical of his or her personality rather than of a specific deed.
One common type of criticism is to bring up a long list of complaints. I call this “kitchen sinking”: you throw in every negative thing you can think of. Another form is to accuse your partner of betraying you, of being untrustworthy: “I trusted you to balance the checkbook and you let me down! Your recklessness amazes me.” In contrast, complaints don’t necessarily finger the spouse as a culprit; they are more a direct expression of one’s own dissatisfaction with a particular situation.
Criticisms also tend to be generalizations. A telltale sign that you’ve slipped from complaining to criticizing is if global phrases like “you never” or “you always” start punctuating your exchanges:
Complaint: “We don’t go out as much as I’d like to.”Criticism: “You never take me anywhere.”Being critical can begin innocently enough and is often the expression of pentup, unresolved anger. It may be one of those natural self-destruct mechanisms inherent in all relationships. Problems occur when criticism becomes so pervasive that it corrodes the marriage. When that happens it heralds the arrival of the next horseman that can drag you toward marital difficulty.
THE SECOND HORSEMAN: CONTEMPT
By their first anniversary, Eric and Pamela still hadn’t resolved their financial differences. Unfortunately, their fights were becoming more frequent and personal. Pamela was feeling disgusted with Eric. In the heat of one particularly nasty argument, she found herself shrieking: “Why are you so irresponsible?” Fed up and insulted, Eric retorted, “Oh, shut up. You’re just a cheapskate. I don’t know how I ended up with you anyway.”
The second horseman–contempt–had entered the scene. What separates contempt from criticism is the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner. With your words and body language, you’re lobbing insults right into the heart of your partner’s sense of self. Fueling these contemptuous actions are negative thoughts about the partner–he or she is stupid, incompetent, a fool. In direct or subtle fashion, that message gets across along with the criticism.
When this happened, they ceased being able to remember why they had fallen in love in the first place. As a consequence, they rarely complimented each other anymore or expressed mutual admiration or attraction. The focal point of their relationship became abusiveness. What Pamela and Eric experienced is hardly uncommon. When contempt begins to overwhelm your relationship, you tend to forget your partner’s positive qualities, at least while you’re feeling upset. You can’t remember a single positive quality or act.
This immediate decay of admiration is an important reason why contempt ought to be banned from marital interactions. Recognizing when you or your spouse is expressing contempt is fairly easy. Among the most common signs are:
o Insults and name-callingo Hostile humor
o Body language–including sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip.
It is easy to feel overly critical at times, and it is human to state criticism in a contemptuous way now and then, even in the best relationships. Yet if abusiveness seems to be a problem in your relationship, the best way to neutralize it is to stop seeing arguments with your spouse as a way to retaliate or exhibit your superior moral stance. Rather, your relationship will improve if you approach your spouse with precise complaints rather than attacking your partner’s personality or character.
THE THIRD HORSEMAN: DEFENSIVENESS
Once contempt entered their home, Eric and Pamela’s marriage went from bad to worse. When either of them acted contemptuously, the other responded defensively, which just made matters worse. Now they both felt victimized by the other–and neither was willing to take responsibility for setting things right. In effect, they both constantly pleaded innocent. The fact that defensiveness is an understandable reaction to feeling besieged is one reason it is so destructive–the “victim” doesn’t see anything wrong with being defensive.
But defensive phrases, and the attitude they express, tend to escalate a conflict rather than resolve anything. If you are being defensive, you are adding to your marital troubles. Familiarize yourself with the signs of defensiveness so you can recognize them for what they truly are:
o Denying Responsibility. No matter what your partner charges, you insist in no uncertain terms that you are not to blame.
o Making Excuses. You claim that external circumstances beyond your control forced you to act in a certain way.
o Disagreeing with Negative Mind-Reading. Sometimes your spouse will make assumptions about your private feelings, behavior, or motives (in phrases such as “You think it’s a waste of time” or “I know how you hate it”).
When this “mind-reading” is delivered in a negative manner, it may trigger defensiveness in you.
o Cross-Complaining. You meet your partner’s complaint (or criticism) with an immediate complaint of your own, totally ignoring what your partner has said.
o Repeating Yourself.
Rather than attempting to understand the spouse’s point of view, couples who specialize in this technique simply repeat their own position to each other again and again. Both think they are right and that trying to understand the other’s perspective is a waste of time.
The first step toward breaking out of defensiveness is to no longer see your partner’s words as an attack but as information that is being strongly expressed. Try to understand and empathize with your partner. This is admittedly hard to do when you feel under siege, but it is possible and its effects are miraculous. If you are genuinely open and receptive when your partner is expecting a defensive response, he or she is less likely to criticize you or react contemptuously when disagreements arise.
THE FOURTH HORSEMAN: STONEWALLING
Exhausted and overwhelmed by Pamela’s attacks, Eric eventually stopped responding, even defensively, to her accusations. Their marriage went from being marred by poor communication to being virtually destroyed by none. Once Eric stopped listening to Pamela, their relationship became extraordinarily difficult to repair. Instead of arguing about specific issues, every confrontation degenerated into Pamela screaming at Eric that he was shutting her out: “You never say anything. You just sit there. It’s like talking to a brick wall.”
Stonewalling often happens while a couple is in the process of talking things out. The stonewaller just removes himself by turning into a stone wall. Usually someone who is listening reacts to what the speaker is saying, looks at the speaker, and says things like “Uh huh” or “Hmmm” to indicate he is tracking. But the stonewaller abandons these messages, replacing them with stony silence.
Stonewallers do not seem to realize that it is a very powerful act: It conveys disapproval, icy distance, and smugness. It is very upsetting to speak to a stonewalling listener. This is especially true when a man stonewalls a woman. Most men don’t get physiologically aroused when their wives stonewall them, but wives’ heart rates go up dramatically when their husbands stonewall them.
The fourth horseman need not mark the end of a relationship. But if your interactions have deteriorated to this extent you are at great risk of catapulting even farther down the marital cascade–becoming so overwhelmed by the negativity in your relationship that you end up divorced, separated, or living lonely, parallel lives in the same home. Once the fourth horseman becomes a regular resident, it takes a good deal of hard work and soul-searching to save the marriage.The four horsemen are not the end of the line.
It is only after they turn a relationship sour that the ultimate danger arises: Partners seize on powerful thoughts and beliefs about their spouse that cement their negativity. Only if these inner thoughts go unchallenged are you likely to topple down the final marital cascade, one that leads to distance and isolation. However, if you learn to recognize what is happening to your once-happy marriage, you can still develop the tools you need to regain control of it.
KEYS TO IMPROVING YOUR MARRIAGE
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a deliberate effort to calm yourself. This strategy eases the need to be defensive and to stonewall–two of the “Four Horsemen”–and undercuts the physical feelings that sustain the thoughts that maintain distress.
From the data gathered in our lab we’ve seen how quickly discussions fall apart as soon as one spouse’s heart rate begins to soar. Learning how to calm down helps prevent unproductive fighting or running away from the important discussions you may need to have.
In addition, listening or speaking without being defensive helps to counter several destructive habits. If you happen to be a nondefensive listener, chances are it will make the cycle of negativity much less likely. And a nondefensive attitude on your part also helps to defuse the need to stonewall, particularly for men. But keep in mind that defensiveness is a two-way street; if you start speaking nondefensively, you will lessen your partner’s need to be defensive.
Letting your spouse know that you understand him or her is also one of the most powerful tools for healing your relationship. It is an antidote to criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. Instead of attacking or ignoring your partner’s point of view, you try to see the problem from his or her perspective and show that you think his or her viewpoint may have some validity.
When you’ve had one successful fight using these techniques, you may think you’ve fully mastered the strategies. But these lessons have to be practiced often. So often, in fact, that they become completely automatic. Each time you rehearse being nondefensive or validating is a new and different experience and it’s important to keep trying even when you’re tired and don’t feel like it. The idea is that if you overlearn a communication skill, you’ll have ready access to it when you need it most–during a heated argument with your spouse when you are physiologically aroused.
EXERCISE: HOW DO WE COMPARE?
This exercise gives you a chance to see the strengths of your marriage by comparing yourselves to other couples in your lives.
1. Each of you jot down the names of four different couples you both know. Two should be examples of “bad” marriages; two of “good” marriages.
2. Now share the names with one another and tell why you feel the good marriages work and the bad marriages don’t. Perhaps you admire how one couple is raising their children, or you disapprove of the way another couple berates one another in front of company.
3. Talk about your own marriage in relation to these good and bad marriages. Compare the way you and your spouse manage to get through difficult times with the way each of these couples handle their challenges. Can you identify behaviors you want to avoid? Are there things you’d like to emulate?
4. Talk about your own ability as a couple to overcome hardship. Have you weathered episodes or incidents of which you’re particularly proud? If so, how did you do it?
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE
Fortunately, in most relationships, there are ways of fixing things. I call these “repair mechanisms.” Often, they are needed most when people are frustrated and angry, so they are said with some irritation or hurt, or even accompanied by an insult or threat. But they are repair mechanisms nonetheless.
Happily married couples use certain phrases and actions during an argument that prevent negativity from spiraling out of control. In effect, these conciliatory gestures act as a glue that helps to hold the marriage together during tense times.
1. Try to make comments about the communication process itself, such as “Please let me finish,” or “We’re getting off the topic,” or “That hurt my feelings.”
2. Comment on what’s happening while it’s taking place, not afterward.
3. Remind your partner that you admire and empathize with them despite the conflict.
4. Use phrases such as “Yes, I see,” “Uh huh,” or “Go on.” These are little psychological strokes at which stable couples are masters.
By Alan on Feb 12 in Blog tagged a, attention, blessed, child, childhood, children, church, commandments, communication, conflict, depart, difficult, endure, everyday, faith, give, go, goodness, job, Joseph Smith, kids, learning, long-suffering, Lord, love, More, neglect, neglected, organized, physical, playing, pleasurable, precious, psychological, recreation, talk, taught, teach, the way, time, Tom Perry, train, up, values, working | Comments Off
“Train up a child in the way he should go.” writes the author of Proverbs, “and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
My mind was drawn to this admonition recently while reading an article in one of our current news publications on “Our Neglected Kids.” The article pointed out that “most of them are properly clothed and fed, but something is missing in the lives of countless children.” For many of them, “it is a matter of needing more attention from their parents,” who are caught up in everyday pressures.
The article says:
“In a nation that professes to take pride in its young, … social change is inflicting harm—physical and psychological—on millions of children. For them, growing up in America is becoming an ordeal instead of a joy.
“As their parents struggle to cope with divorce, single parenthood, dual careers, and a troublesome economy, many of the nation’s more than 47.6 million children under the age of 14 pay the price in ways that range from simple neglect to outright abuse.
“Parents are caught in a crunch of conflicting values,” the article points out, quoting Edward Weaver. “They value children, but they value other things as well, such as time for themselves, material goods, status and their careers. Given these conflicts, in a number of instances they neglect children or don’t give them a fair shake.” (U.S. News & World Report, 9 Aug. 1982, p. 54.)
As I travel outside the boundaries of this country, I seem to find these same problems growing elsewhere. These are danger signals for our children. We find more mothers with jobs, more single-parent homes, an enormous increase in children born out of wedlock. These growing social changes are causing increased difficulty for the children in our society today.
Articles such as the one I have quoted deeply trouble me, for I had such a pleasant, happy childhood. The pleasure of being a parent has always been special to me. It is impossible to express the love I have for my children and grandchildren.
I marvel at the miracle of the birth of a child. Just recently we experienced it again in our family. You receive a phone call, and there is the anxious voice of your son-in-law on the other end, stating, “I am just on my way to the hospital with Linda Gay.” Then you sit anxiously all day waiting for further news. Finally it comes: It’s a boy! Then you drop everything and rush to the hospital to offer your congratulations. There you see this blessed miracle—your own child, now with a baby cradled in her arms with warmth and tender love. You see a son-in-law so excited, and he starts pointing out that the baby’s nose looks like his mother’s. Maybe the chin and mouth resemble his. Then he looks at the hands and says, “Surely, these must be from the Perry side of the family. Look how large they are!”
A deep love wells up within you as you witness this blessed event and realize the joy and happiness these new parents will now have as the process is repeated again in their lives.
I am surely not an authority on child rearing. I have had my challenges, just as many parents have experienced. However, since reading this article, I have been directed to the words of the prophets, past and present, stressing the importance of the responsibility of a parent to train up a child.
In the Old Testament, there is an account of the Lord giving instructions to Moses just before He delivered the Ten Commandments to him. It states:
“The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6–7.)
In the New Testament, Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counseled them:
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4.)
The Book of Mormon begins with a son giving credit to the training of goodly parents:
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.” (1 Ne. 1:1.)
Instructions through the Prophet Joseph Smith to members of the Church in this day are explicit regarding the responsibilities of parents to children:
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrines of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)
At the time I was a new parent, President David O. McKay presided over the Church. His counsel was clear and direct regarding our responsibilities to our children. He taught us the most precious gift a man and woman can receive is a child of God, and that the raising of a child is basically, fundamentally, and most exclusively a spiritual process.
He directed us to basic principles we need to teach our children. The first and most important inner quality you can instill in a child is faith in God.The first and most important action a child can learn is obedience. And the most powerful tool you have with which to teach a child is love. (SeeInstructor, Vol. 84, Dec. 1949, p. 620.)
Let us examine together these three basic principles. President Brigham Young instructed parents by saying:
“If each and every one of us who are parents will reflect upon the responsibilities devolving upon us, we shall come to the conclusion that we should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.” (Journal of Discourses, 14:192.)
If we are to instill faith in our children, they must see us demonstrate our faith in their young lives. They must see us on our knees daily, asking the Lord for His blessings and expressing our gratitude unto Him. They need to see us using our priesthood to administer to those in need, and to bless our children. They need to see us reverently worshiping in our sacrament meetings. They need to see us cheerfully and willingly giving of our time and talents to the building of the Lord’s kingdom here on earth. They need to see us proving our faith by the payment of our tithes and offerings to Him. They need to see us diligently studying and discussing the scriptures to increase our faith and understanding.
I read recently an article in a magazine designed especially for Latter-day Saints about a study that was made of the benefits of reading to children. It stated that when a mother or a father consistently reads to a child, the child enters school at a much higher level and excels in reading during these early grades. If there is a direct correlation between the early training a child receives from parents and the rapidity with which a child learns, how important would it be, then, for us to spend time reading the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, to imbue and instill in them, in their tender and early years, faith in the gospel of our Lord and Savior?
The second principle President McKay outlined for us is obedience.President Joseph Fielding Smith has said: “Of course there should be prayer and faith and love and obedience to God in the home. It is the duty of parents to teach their children these saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that they will know why they are to be baptized and that they may be impressed in their hearts with a desire to continue to keep the commandments of God after they are baptized, that they may come back into his presence. Do you, my good brethren and sisters, want your families, your children; do you want to be sealed to your fathers and your mothers before you? … If so, then you must begin by teaching at the cradle-side. You are to teach by example as well as precept.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, p. 153.)
I remember being impressed one time with the need to teach obedience. I was on a new job working long hours, and I guess I was somewhat neglectful of my family. My son seemed to crave more time and attention. He was finding all sorts of ways to attract my attention. One day when I came home, his mother had him prepared to take me downstairs to see what mischief he had recently created. As we descended the stairs, he sheepishly opened the door to our food storage room. There I found he had been using his dart set to practice his marksmanship on our food storage. He caught my attention all right, and made me realize he was looking for the metes and bounds we expected of him in our family government. When they were outlined, and when I gave him the proper attention, then he was very obedient. How important it is that we teach obedience early in the lives of our children, especially to the commandments of the Lord!
Finally, President McKay taught us the necessity of love. I’ve always been impressed with the fact that when the Lord was teaching His disciples in those final hours of His earthly ministry as they met in the Last Supper, after teaching service by the washing of their feet, His next instructions concerned love. He taught,
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34.)
I recently enjoyed an article in the Reader’s Digest written about enduring values. It stated “that the climate of our times tends to support the idea that love is a seasonal monsoon: it comes, it blows fiercely; it goes by. That is too bad, because a child needs the kind of love that is as trustworthy as the rising of the sun. If a child is to grow up to truly join the human race, he needs to know how to keep love alive.
“A child should learn not merely to love, but to be a loving person—to make love his stance in the world. ‘Love’ may come and go, but a loving person, like the sun itself, never loses his or her sustaining warmth.” (Reader’s Digest, June 1981, p. 164.)
Sometime ago I remember reading about an experiment with chickens. I do not remember the source. Young pullets, as they grew in their life cycle, were given all of the food they needed to eat, without being required to make an effort to obtain it. Then as the pullets matured, they were turned out into the chicken coop, where they had to scratch for their food. A chicken who had never been taught how to scratch as a pullet would mature without learning this ability and would literally starve to death, even though just below the surface of the ground was all the food it needed to sustain life.
Then the article went on to compare this example with a child who was not taught the ability to love early in its life. In all probability, according to the article, the child would not be able to develop that choice characteristic as it matured to adulthood. How tragic it would be if a child were deprived of the ability to love!
Today, I would like you to pause, ponder, and think of the value of an immortal soul, especially the ones entrusted to you as parents. Where are your priorities? Have you committed yourself to give the sufficient time necessary to train your children?
Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Nebraska gave a most interesting talk at an annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations. It was titled “Characteristics of Strong Families.” His six points were:
- A strong family spends a significant amount of time together while playing, working, eating, or in recreation. Although family members all have outside interests, they find adequate time to spend together.
- Strong families have a high degree of commitment to each family member, as indicated not only by the time spent together, but also by their ability to work together in a common cause.
- Strong families have good communication patterns, as indicated by the time spent listening and speaking to each other in conversation.
- Strong families have a high degree of religious orientation.
- Strong families have the ability to deal with crises in a positive way because they have spent time together, are committed to each other, and have good communication patterns.
- Strong family members frequently give compliments to each other which are genuine and not superficial. (See “In Search of Strong Families,” in Building Family Strengths: Blueprints for Action, ed. Nick Stinnett, et al., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979, pp. 23–30.)
We who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ ought to have the devotion and the determination necessary to build strong family units. May God bless us that we may “organize [ourselves]; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house” (D&C 109:8) for those we love that is worthy of an eternal family unit is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
L. TOM PERRY
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By Alan on Dec 26 in Blog tagged conflict, DANGER, darkness, evil, famiy, Freedom, good, light, Light of Christ, pornography, principles, protect, rescue, TV, war | Comments Off
Let There Be Light!
In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse.
There is an optimistic hope that freedom and light would be restored. For those of us who understand the role of the Savior and the Light of Christ in the ongoing conflict between good and evil, the analogy between that world war and the moral conflict today is clear. It is by the Light of Christ that all mankind “may know good from evil”.
Freedom and light have never been easy to attain or maintain. Since the War in Heaven, the forces of evil have used every means possible to destroy agency and extinguish light. The assault on moral principles and religious freedom has never been stronger.
As Latter-day Saints, [and all Christian Churches,] we need to do our best to preserve light and protect our families and communities from this assault on morality and religious freedom.
An ever-present danger to the family is the onslaught of evil forces that seem to come from every direction. While our primary effort must be to seek light and truth, we would be wise to black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth.
Pornography, in particular, is a weapon of mass moral destruction. Its impact is at the forefront in eroding moral values. Some TV programs and Internet sites are equally lethal. These evil forces remove light and hope from the world. The level of decadence is accelerating. If we do not black out evil from or homes and lives, do not be surprised if devastating moral explosions shatter the peace which is the reward for righteous living. Our responsibility is to be in the world but not of the world.
In addition, we need to greatly increase religious observance in the home. Weekly family home evening and daily family prayer and scripture study are essential. We need to introduce into our homes content that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy”. If we make of our homes holy places that shelter us from evil, we will be protected from the adverse consequences that the scriptures have foretold.
Quentin L. Cook, “Let There Be Light!”, Ensign, Nov. 2010, 27–30
IT’S TIME TO “RESCUE THE FAMILY”!
Coming Next . . .
Note: President Boyd K. Packer said, “I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.”18
MORE: “WINNING THE WAR AGAINST EVIL”.