Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Parenting & Pregnancy (page 1 of 5)

Provo Gem: The Soap Factory


This place has a ton of character to it. Although I complain about the construction and zero parking and bipolar weather most of the time, it really is a great place to live and explore. There are so many startup companies around here that you can’t ever truly be bored (unless you’re hungry at 11:30 pm on a Friday or Saturdaythen you’re in trouble because nothing is open).

There are some real gems in our backyard, and I think it’s important that we give each of them a shoutout. The one that I’m going to focus on today is The Soap Factory!

This place is so much fun. I went on a date here back in 2015 and when I tried to go back later, it was closed! Have no fear, the company only moved to a bigger location, and it’s now on Center Street.

It can be a little tricky to find because it’s on the second floor; it is not a shop that you walk past on a sunny day, but it’s a rare find if you ask me. It’s a pretty cheap date for a really great time. It’s $5 per person (studio fee) and then 5 cents per gram for whatever products you make. (A bar of soap is usually less than $5.) There are literally over 400 shapes, 150+ essential oils, plus colors and paints to create your own healthy, all-natural soap, scrubs, lotion, lip balm, and tons more. This place is full of creativity. You choose the scents/oils you want in your product, the mold/shape of it, and then you paint it to your liking.

I personally think that this a great place for all ages and relationships. A girls’ night, birthday party, couples date, you name it. The first time I went here was on a blind date and *luckily* the date was a smooth one. You can easily strike up a conversation while creating your art, but it also allows you to have silence if 1.You really want to concentrate on your work and 2.The date is struggling.

I highly recommend checking this place out and don’t forget to make a reservation. Just try itI promise you’ll thank me later.


Limiting Social Media: Dropping the Phone Addiction

A child tugs on her mom’s pant leg.

“MomomomMOMOM!” she yells, begging for attention.

“Just hang on, I’m on the phone!” the mother pleads, attempting to finish her conversation.

How often have we seen this scene play out in various ways? I remember being that child, desperate for attention. I can sympathize a lot more with my mom now, knowing how needy kids can be; sometimes you need a minute on the phone just to get something done. But now it’s far easier and more common for technology to distract us from the needs of others around us, especially in our families. Today that phone scene might look like a family member only half-listening to a conversation, too involved in a text or a new Facebook status to give their full attention, or a child too glued to their screen to participate in family activities.

I personally have noticed a difference in my life the last few years as I’ve become more and more dependent on technology. I have a shorter attention span; I’m not as good of a listener as I used to be; I’m more easily distracted.

I am definitely addicted to my phone.

I’ve decided on several occasions that enough is enough; I need to stop using social media, go on a “phone fast,” and quit cold turkey. However, that rarely works out as well as I want it to. If technology is an addiction, it’s going to take more than one all-or-nothing attempt to really change my habits. These are a few struggles I’ve noticed as I try to limit my use of technology, and some tips that help me be more aware of the time I spend on my phone:

  1. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses in terms of time-wasters. For me, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  2. It’s hard for me to cut them out all at once because they aren’t all bad—I use Facebook to stay connected to my family, and I use Pinterest for recipes. I’ve found it’s easier for me to set specific, limited times each day that I can use them. For example, I can get on Instagram for ten minutes (and only ten!) to take a break from homework, or I can only look at Facebook while I’m donating plasma, etc.
  3. I’m much more likely to stay off of Facebook and Instagram if I’m logged off them. Some people like to delete the app, but I find that even if I’m just logged off, the extra effort of logging in often deters me from doing so because it reminds me that I’m trying to stay away.
  4. Fixing social media settings so notifications don’t pop up on my desktop/phone screen is a BIG help! I could be working diligently on homework, but as soon as that Facebook notification popped up I’d go to check it just real quick and WHAM! I’d be down the rabbit hole. No notifications means no distractions jutting into my other activities.
  5. Tell someone your goals; they’ll keep you accountable. I know it’s kind of cheesy when someone makes that status saying, “Well I’m taking a break from Facebook for [x amount of time], see ya,” but if you at least tell a roommate or family member, they’ll be able to give you a hard time if they see you breaking your commitment, and maybe just make you feel guilty enough to keep it!
  6. Apparently when my brain wants its addiction it gets super resourceful. Even if I stop using my main time-wasters, I go to secondary ones like playing Candy Crush and online window-shopping with Wish. When that happens, I have to limit those ones too!
  7. Finally, perhaps one of the most important tips I have is to find other positive things to fill your time with. When I stopped using social media, I realized just how accustomed I was to filling every moment of boredom with it. I used it to numb myself when I was stressed or needing a break. Finding other things that act as stress relievers has been a huge help in slowing my automatic impulse to reach to my phone whenever I’m looking for a distraction because I have other things to turn to instead. I’ll pick up a book or spend a few minutes talking with a friend or a family member instead of scrolling aimlessly.

Technology can be a great source of connection, but only when we control it instead of letting it control us. How each person uses technology will be different, but I believe that if we set personal boundaries for ourselves and for our use of technology and social media, we will be able to more fully connect with those around us and be more present in our own lives.


Dad’s Favorite Gift

The difficulties of parenting surprise even the best of moms and dads. We begin our parenting life staring into the eyes of our little one, believing that we know the journey that lies ahead. We will teach them all that matters to us, and they will, in turn, grow up into the wonderful adult that we had imagined. Sadly, and surprisingly, time ticks away and the next thing we know, most of what we had hoped for didn’t happen after all.

Disappointment does not escape anyone. The question is, what do we do with this knowledge of reality? I will tell you what I did. When my dad was seventy-five years old and I was forty-one years old, I had had just enough parenting experience to realize something; at this stage of my dad’s life, he did not need to hear anything he did wrong as a parent. He needed to know all the good he did, and he needed to know that I felt only gratitude for him.

With this revelation, I created what I believe is a gift that every parent deserves. I began thinking about how much food was involved in the good memories of life. I began to gather stories of times spent with my dad and the food that helped create those good memories. I wanted to do just a little bit more than simply tell the story of our times together; I decided to add to these stories the lessons I had learned from my dad when we were together. From my gratitude grew a box of memories, associated with food but inspired by the lessons learned from a father.

Because my dad did not live in the same state as I did, my gift would need to be mailed. I drove around gathering up all the food I needed to mail, and then I wrote the stories. I began my gift with a letter of explanation, part of which said, “My gift to you this day is a special way of saying ‘Thanks for the memories.’ In this box is a sampling of foods that I associate with you and the good memory that lingers with them still. Love to you, Amos.”

One of my stories began “All of my memories, at any stage of my life, of going to the movies with you, are wonderful. One important lesson in life stands out thoughhonesty. I remember when I reached the age of twelve and the price of a movie ticket for me went up. Needless to say, I certainly did not look twelve years old, nor did anyone at the movie theatre think so. Every time we’d go to buy my ticket, they would guess me as a “child.” You would always correct them and tell them how old I really was. Your simple and direct honesty set a very strong example of integrity and I desired to be just like you.”

Another story reads “We usually think of a ‘security blanket’ as some kind of tangible object. For me, one of my most treasured ‘security blankets’ was the twelve years that I spent on the ice, looking through the Plexiglass and seeing you in the coffee shop, eating toast and jelly, exactly at the same time every morning. I doubt you knew the value of what you were giving me nor the magnitude of the positive effect it would have on my life. As a mother today, my most important daily goal is to simply be there––always––at the same time––each day––just as my dad was, in the coffee shop.”

If you are fortunate enough to have one or both of your parents still around, I hope you will take the time to share your food memories and maybe a lesson or two that you learned while spending time together. Let them know that they did something right––that their hard work paid off and that you not only appreciate all they did for you, but that you learned from them as well. If your parents are no longer with you, write down the stories anyway for future generations to learn from.

After receiving my gift in the mail and reading all the stories, my dad called to tell me that “this is the best gift I have ever received in my whole life.” At that moment, I realized that my gift to him turned out to be equally as valuable to me; I had made my dad feel like a successful parent, and in turn, I felt like a successful daughter.

A Family Favorite

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about family traditions lately, and one that has had a lasting impact on my life keeps coming to my mind. I am the oldest of four girls and have always heard my mom say the exact same thing to each of us when we left the house—from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school, and even now when I come home over break.

Mom: Have a great day, choose the right, and remember . . .?

Kids: I am a child of God, you love me, and I can pray anytime, anywhere, always!

Even when my sisters and I were on different school schedules I could hear one of them reciting it while walking out the door, and then fifteen minutes later I would hear another say it as she left for the day. It got to the point where I could say it in under two seconds if I was really running late somewhere. If it was for a drive up to school, a trip to the mall with friends, or even a date, I could hear my mother calling out, somewhere in the house, her sweet little line any time I EVER walked out the door and into the real world.

Something that I have loved about this is that it didn’t cost any time or money, but she was still able to create a tradition and a lasting memory that I plan to carry over into my own family someday. I can still remember some of those hard days at school where something had gone wrong and I was ready to throw in the towel or classmates were pressuring me to do something I knew I shouldn’t or even something silly like the fact that I didn’t get asked to the dance by my crush; in the moments that mattered the most, I could hear my mother’s voice reminding me to have a great day, to choose the right, that I am a child of God, that she loves me, and that I can pray anytime, anywhere, always.

Thanks mom.


March Madness

Everyone has a tradition, and every society has traditions. Sometimes they line up with each other, creating a hodge podge of creative ideas, unique perspectives, and stories you can tell over and over, like March Madness! I have been curious about the thousands of different ways that the culture of a country and its society interacts with families. You see it in big things like the many different ways each family opens presents on Christmas, or what everyone eats on the Fourth of July. This month the national craze is March Madness!

Now, even if you are not a basketball fan, you have still probably heard about March Madness. It is a huge deal; it is the culminating event of college basketball, the big dance, bracket-mania! Even the President of the United States creates a bracket! Last year, President Barack Obama picked the Kansas Jay Hawks as the winners, and while they sadly did not win (since I had also picked them), this just goes to show how invested this country is.

That is where the family comes in. Every year my in-laws send out a bracket competition invite where we have fun using our own convoluted strategies to decide how to pick which teams will move on to each next round, and finally who will win! It is a really fun family tradition and it has been interesting hearing about other people’s March Madness traditions as well. Whether the stakes are high (I heard of a couple that competes and sees which gets to pick where they eat out at their end of the month dinner), or the stakes are low (another family disregards who analysts say will win and ritually place their favorite team in the winning spot as a “sign of faith”), the traditions are always fun. So, this month live a little! Make a tradition and join in on this national insanity, but don’t forget to bring the kids!


An Easy Start to Family History

What is it that makes the world go around? What is the main driving force behind the things that people do? For me, the answer is my family. My family is the most important thing in my life, and I love them. One of the great things about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the knowledge that we can be with our families forever; our family ties are not “until death do you part,” but forever. It is a great comfort for me to know that I can live with both my immediate and my extended family forever.

My grandpa died just a few weeks after I was born; I never met him. My older brothers and cousins have so many stories and great memories of him, and I wish that I had gotten a chance to know him. I know that one day I will meet him and will have the opportunity to get to know him, because we are sealed together as a family.

Our family ties go back further than just our grandparents. By doing my family history, I have learned about many generations of my ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a website specifically designed for family history: It’s free and super easy to use! When you first open the webpage, in the top right-hand corner, there is a button that says, “Sign In” and another one that says, “Free Account.” If this is your first time using Family Search, click “Free Account” to make your account. (It asks you to make a username and password and to provide a little bit of information about yourself.) If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can enter your “Membership Number” (you can ask your ward clerk what it is if you don’t know it), and you will be linked into your family tree. After making your account, you can view your family tree by clicking “Family Tree” at the top of the page. From there, you can start to explore your family tree! You can click on the names of your ancestors to view information about them or to add more information. If you know of an ancestor who is missing from your tree, you can add them in, as long as you know a few basic details about them. You can view memories and pictures of your ancestors, and some ancestors will have sources attached to their profile, such as birth certificates or a picture of their gravestones.

Family Search is a great tool to get to know your ancestors better, but it’s even more than that. With Family Search, we can find our ancestors so that we can perform sealing ordinances for them in the temple of God, by the priesthood, which is the power of God. We can seal them to their spouse and their children, linking generations together through the centuries. We will create eternal ties that will allow them to be with us, and all of our family, forever. What a blessing to have Family Search and the opportunity to be with our family forever!

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness: Why it’s Important, and How to Begin Assembling Your Own 72-Hour Kit

While I was in Brazil serving an LDS mission, I spent four and a half months in an area called Manaíra. In this city,  there was a slum built right along the bank of a river. Toward the end of my time there, the area got a lot of rainfall, as is common in Brazil, and the river flooded its banks. Dozens of homes, if not more, were filled up to waist-level with water from the dirty river. Although such extreme flooding was fairly rare, it was common enough that the community was not surprised by it. I, however, was horrified at the conditions; I wondered why people still lived there when they knew there was a risk of disasters like this flood. But sadly, many of those people had lived there all their lives and were without means to move. They simply had to find friends or relatives nearby with whom they could stay for a couple of days until things cleared up, and then move back in. I remember feeling sorry that there wasn’t much I could do to help at the time. It was only a few days ago when I had a conversation about emergency preparedness that I realized how much of a difference a 72-hour kit could have made for the people I knew in Brazil—and not only them, but how much of a difference it can make for me even now.

A 72-hour kit is a portable supply of things you’ll need to survive for three days in an emergency, including items such as food, water, medical supplies, clothes, etc. Members of the LDS church are generally familiar with the idea of emergency preparedness, since for decades church leaders have been counseling members to prepare their families in case of emergency, but it may be a topic a little less well-known outside the Mormon bubble. So why is having a 72-hour kit important or applicable for all people? No matter where you live, you never know when disaster will strike—floods, blizzards, hurricanes, fires, power outages, I guarantee there’s some disaster that could reach you. A 72-hour kit could be useful even if you’re a poor college student like me and there’s a time when you’re out of groceries between paychecks. It happens. It’s a good idea to have a bigger food storage saved in case of a long-lasting emergency as well, but if you’re a young college student like me who’s constantly moving from one small apartment to another, carrying around a couple hundred pounds of food isn’t exactly feasible—for moving, or for my budget. But a 72-hour kit is practical, and doable, for anyone to get a start on food storage, and to be just a little more prepared.

In the quick search I did, I found these to be the basic essentials you should get first to start your kit:

Water: The recommended amount of water to have stored is 1 gallon per person per day—but, keep in mind that a 72-hour kit is meant to be portable. You may need to pack less water than the recommended amount, and have some extra handy just in case.

Food: Granola bars, tuna, beef jerky, trail mix, crackers, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, dried fruit, canned foods, etc.—just make sure there’s enough non-perishable food for a 3-day supply, along with dishes and utensils, and anything you might need for preparation. (Don’t forget the can opener!)

Hygiene Supplies: Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, dish soap, hand sanitizer, etc.

Medical Supplies: Basically a first aid kit, along with any medications you may be taking.

Other Equipment: Flashlight (and batteries), pocket knife, matches/lighter, candles, blankets, etc.

These are just some basics to help start the process. I found a lot of useful information and more detailed lists at the following sites:

(Pinterest also has tons of great suggestions, and, as always, Google has some great tips to offer as well!)

It’s important to remember, the purpose of a 72-hour kit is to have it ready for an emergency—so keep it in something portable, like a backpack, and somewhere you can get to it quickly.

You don’t have to buy all the items for your kit at once. I wouldn’t even recommend it, unless you happen to have a bunch of money saved up to spend on your emergency preparedness; like all good things, your 72-hour kit comes little by little. Personally, my goal right now is to buy 1–2 items a week to build my 72-hour kit. Even if you’re tight on money, all it takes is an extra box of crackers or can of food once a week to start, and you’ll be prepared in no time!

Let us know in the comments what your best tips are for compiling a 72-hour kit, and good luck assembling your own!


The Whole “Keeping Track of Money” Thing

My mom has always been fantastic at money management. She’ll sit down in front of the computer with all the receipts for an entire month and keep track of where any money was spent. She makes a grocery list and looks for coupons. She shops sales so that she can get the best deals. She has a budget with an amount set aside for everything that we might spend money on. Ever since my siblings and I were little and first started earning money, my mom has had us set aside some money every month to save to go to college and to serve missions. When my dad changed jobs and started getting a smaller paycheck, my parents went through the budget and decided what to cut. We got rid of most of our channels on TV, my mom started making homemade bread, and we stopped buying a lot of unnecessary items.

My mom is excellent at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. I, on the other hand, am not. There was one time when I was in high school that I had to keep a budget for three months for a project. Of course, I went to my mom for help, and she told me all sorts of things about money management, but I mostly just rolled my eyes and did the bare minimum to complete the project. Back then, I didn’t worry much about money. I didn’t make very much in a month, but I also had very few expenses, so it just wasn’t a big deal! But now I’ve moved on to a different story. Now I have to pay rent, buy my own groceries, pay for myself at restaurants, and pay for my own gas. Life is expensive! So this month, I decided to make a budget. I wrote down everything I could think of where I might spend money, and then I called my mom (of course) to see if I missed anything. But then came the hard part: staying within my budget!

I haven’t had a budget for long, but I’ve learned a few things already:

1) There are always unexpected expenses!
2) Some of those unexpected expenses can be controlled but some can’t be controlled.
3) It’s a lot of work to keep track of all my expenses; it’s easy to lose those receipts or forget that I bought something.
4) It takes a lot of self-control to stay in a budget, especially when I really want to buy ice cream at the grocery store!

Hopefully, I’ll get better at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. Maybe one of these months I’ll even manage to spend less than I earn! But until then, at least I’ve taken the first few steps towards successful money management.


Gilmore Girls Family Lessons

Do you perk up when you hear the words, Gilmore Girls? Are you still hoping that Netflix will put out a season two of A Year in the Life to answer all those loose ends we were left with? I know that I am.

Gilmore Girls is loved by so many people. It has its hilarious, as well as touching, moments that so many people can relate to in their own lives with their own families. The Gilmore Girls may not live within a traditional home of a married father and mother, yet they are still as much a family as any other family. Rory and Lorelai are truly the ultimate dynamic duo between mother and daughter. They have their rough moments, but they always come back together in love and unity, while making countless, unforgettable friends along the way.

Since we could truly write a book about the different family dynamics in the Gilmore Girls series, the following are just three of the amazing family lessons we can learn from the Gilmore Girls:

  1. Eat Together: One might wonder how the Gilmore Girls can consume so much sugar and take-out while remaining in great health and how they can afford the take-out in the first place, but they can! So many wonderful memories are made for Rory and Lorelai over take-out from Luke’s Diner, Pete’s, and more. It gives them time to bond and have meaningful conversations with each other. Take time to have a special meal or take-out with your family to just enjoy some good junk food and conversation.
  2. Always Apologize: Let’s admit, Rory and Lorelai, especially, do not have the best communication skills. Lorelai and Luke should have been truthful all the time and spoken their true feelings to each other! Lorelai and Emily should have taken the time to communicate their feelings in a civil manner when Lorelai was a teenager. Rory and Lorelai could have even used better communication in their many disagreements over boys, college, and more. No family is free of arguments or explosive communication, however, the Gilmore Girls always make up in the end. We can take this lesson and apply it in our lives—the importance of saying sorry, asking for forgiveness, and never loosing the close bond between family members over a dumb argument or harsh words said in a moment of frustration.
  3. Home is Home: One final lesson to learn from the Gilmore Girls, is that you can always come home. Despite all the craziness that happened in the family dynamic of the Gilmore’s, there was always a home to go to. Despite Lorelai’s struggles through her teenage years, she and her family are always welcome to Emily and Richard’s house. The love was always there; it never left. When Rory struggles through her issues in high school, college, and even post-college life, Lorelai is always there to welcome her home. Sometimes discipline is necessary or advice must be given on a questionable decision, but this does not mean the love is gone, but rather that the love is strong. Let’s remember the family we love in our lives and always have a home for them to come home to in hard times.


The Influence of a Dad

A dad in a fishing boat with two little boys
Many years ago, when my oldest son, Kevin, was a little boy, I used to tell him over and over that his daddy was a really good man.

One day we were looking at the Ensign, at the picture of the general authorities. I said, “These are pictures of really righteous men.” Kevin immediately asked, “Where’s Dad’s picture?” He had the right idea. Even though Dad is not a general authority, his picture could be with theirs in terms of being a good, righteous man.

There is no substitute for a good, righteous dad. All kids learn from their fathers, even if they are absent or part-time. The good news about this is that if you are a hands-on kind of dad, you can teach your children all they need to know, mostly by example!

When I was little I used to spend a lot of time with my dad. I would go to his store in Arnold, Nebraska, and he would give me little jobs to do. One of my earliest jobs was to fill the peanut machine. Then, I graduated to stocking the pop machine. Sometimes I would “get” to sweep the floor (using sawdust and a push broom). As I got older he let me answer the phone or run errands for him. As a sixteen-year-old, he let me drive a car (that belonged to a dealer) all the way home from Omaha (five hours away) all by myself. (Too bad he forgot to teach me to check the gas gauge and I ran out of gas 10 miles south of town!!!)

There is no substitute for a hands-on dad. I appreciate the time and effort my own husband put in to raising our children. I remember him reading stories at bedtime, playing catch, going golfing, trying to style girls’ hair, making pinewood derby cars, going camping, finding children who ran away, giving blessings . . . the list goes on and on.

There is one common trait that made both men great fathers: they were willing to spend time with their children. There’s a popular idea floating around that quality time is what counts. This is a lie. There is no such thing as quality time. There’s only quality moments that randomly occur when you spend quantity time together! You never know when those moments will happen. They show up almost by accident, when you least expect it.

Today, dads are often treated poorly in the media. They are portrayed as unnecessary at best and bumbling buffoons at worst. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dads are important in every child’s life. Their influence (for good or bad) is lasting and of great import. If you are a dad, step back and look at where you are spending your time and your talents. If you don’t feel like it’s with your family, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. If you’re not a dad, take time to think about the influence your own father had on you, and spend some time calling, visiting, and thanking him for all the sacrifices he made for you.

By Phyllis Rosen
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