Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Self-Improvement (page 3 of 3)

Playing Favorites? Response to Parental Favoritism

I used to joke about being the “forgotten one.” Mostly because of this picture taken at my first Christmas. The focus of the picture was actually on my older sister opening her presents; however, there I was falling over in the background, “forgotten.”

I am not sure a parent could actually forget his or her child, especially mine, but apparently there is a possibility of favoritism. Favoritism meaning the parent shows a higher interest in one sibling above all the rest. How does this make the siblings feel?

To these siblings, as shown by the results of a recent study by Professor Alex Jensen, this favoritism in families can actually have an adverse effect on the children as they grow older. Effects including an increased drug and alcohol use as the children grow older. Jensen found that it isn’t actually that the parents would intentionally treat the children differently, but it is important what the children perceive.

267496_10150248781023877_1501226_nThere may have been times that I actually thought I was the “forgotten one” or second best compared to my sister. But the truth is that my parents and many others don’t really have favorites. How can they? We are all so different and unique that they will appreciate and acknowledge different things about each child. Parents should constantly be trying to find each child’s niche, or thing that the child excels at or enjoys, and then they should support the child in every way that they can.

One of the best ways to show support is finding the time for one on one informal interviews, or just time together. Building that bond is important and will help the child have the confidence and trust in the parent and the parent’s love for him or her. Each child will perceive a relationship how they want, but parents can try their best to make sure the child knows that they love them and that is what is important.

By Karee Brown

4 Steps For Preserving Family History

chelsea1Every so often an event happens that puts everything into perspective. All those stressors—education, family, careers, and hundreds of other things—become hushed and fade into the background. Just a couple weeks ago, my family found out that my great aunt, who we love and adore, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a couple of precious months to live. I spent the last week with very little sleep and no breaks editing my great-grandfather’s autobiography in-between classes and work, so that my Aunt Audrey could read her dad’s story before her sight is taken and eventually her life.  This experience taught me the joy and love we can feel as we learn about our families and preserve our history.

Here are four ways to preserve our family history:

1. Keep your own history

President Spencer W. Kimball, a man who had 33 black binders of journals when he was called to be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had an incredible testimony of writing a journal.  He said, “get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, you impressions and your testimonies.  Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”*

Start today and write for one minute. Include as many events and feelings as you can. Do not try and play catch up with the last five years of your life. It will stress you out and you’ll quit. Make a goal to write once a week or however often you can that will stretch you but not set you up for failure.

2. Take pictures

There is nothing like looking at family photos and reliving memories. Most of us have phones with decent picture-taking abilities. Remember to use them and backup those pictures. It is also fun to make a photo album. There are lots of ways to create them online or slip photos into an already-prepared photo albuSummer 09 654m.

3. Visit with the sages

Take the time to talk to your grandparents and other aged people in your family (and the younger ones too). Record your conversations with them as they describe what life was like for them. This weekend I spent two days recording conversations between some of my aunt’s thirteen siblings. They were sharing stories, laughing, and singing together. The stories I captured on my phone (thanks to smart phones, we have no excuses!) are so special, and I hope to add them to my great-grandfather’s autobiography so other members of my family can read them and pass them on.

4. Share with others 

Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to share our family history. We can create a family website, blog our experiences, or email stories and pictures. Online sharing is also a wonderful way to share family recipes and keep up traditions. The Internet is an incredible blessing to photothose who fill it with good things and use it for good purposes.  

Now that you’ve taken the time to read this post, go take the time to do its tips. Happy doing!

 

By Chelsea Jamison

*See more of President Kimball’s words here and here.

How to Have Peace

Finding Peace?

In the constant, daily struggles of everyday life, it can be difficult to feel peace. Whether it’s an upcoming exam or worries about the future (family, career, etc.), feeling peace can seem impossible.

In Doctrine and Covenants 19:23, it tells us how we can individually have peace:

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.

So how can we have peace?

  1. A person must learn of Christ.
  2. A person must listen to the words of Christ.
  3. A person must be meek.

This world is full of confusion and turmoil. There are wars; there are rumors of wars. There are murders and fighting, divorce and hatred, unkindness and theft. But the Gospel truly does offer peace to those willing to accept its teachings.

1. A person must learn of Christ.

Learning of Christ seems pretty straightforward. Sometimes actually learning of Christ is hard when we get busy with life. Studying the scriptures, the Word of God, will help all of us learn of Christ. Going to the temple brings us closer to him.

2. A person must listen to the words of Christ.

In Doctrine and Covenants 1:38, the Lord declares the following:

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

This scripture seems to prove that General Conference is extremely important. When apostles and prophets speak, it is what the Lord would have declared because they are his servants.

Last Sunday in sacrament meeting, my bishop talked about General Conference, which will be happening this weekend. He said that across the church, it is the least attended meeting by the members. I was shocked! General Conference is probably my favorite spiritual weekend every April and October.

Bishop Jackson told the members of my ward eight concepts that we would learn if we would listen to General Conference.

8 Concepts We Can Learn if We Listen to to General Conference

  1. The importance of remembering our covenants
  2. Our need to seek for eternal truth
  3. How we can avoid confusion/being misled
  4. Why we should resist evil
  5. The need to sustain one another
  6. The importance of attending church meetings
  7. The importance of guarding our virtue
  8. Why we should develop good qualities

President Monson

3. A person must be meek.

I know that as we listen to the words of the prophets, we must be meek. If we are meek, we will be more likely to accept what they have to say as truth. And if we accept the words of the prophets and apostles, then we will be more likely to implement their teachings into our lives. Being meek is not being weak—being meek will make us humble and stronger.

Post written by: Katie, Editor-in-Chief

General Conference: #PreparetoShare

As LDS General Conference approaches, I find myself sniffing around for cinnamon rolls and setting out my favorite pair of pajamas. However, this weekend means a lot more than sleeping in and overeating. We have been told by authorities in the Church that if we will prepare for General Conference by listening with questions to be answered and minds open to receive, we will be enriched and enlightened. That is awesome.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives us two more steps in preparing for Conference. He said, “don’t discount a message merely because it seems familiar,” and “The words spoken at general conference should be a compass that points the way for us.” If we keep these two things in mind during our viewing of Conference, we will find that we will get a lot more out of it that we would have otherwise. (Read Elder Uchtdorf’s full talk here)

But there is one more step I hope we take while preparing for General Conference. Elder David A. Bednar alluded to it when he spoke at BYU Education Week this summer. He said:

“Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (Read of watch Elder Bednar’s full address here)

We should be preparing to share the messages we hear and the feelings we have during Conference, especially on social media. Using hashtags such as #LDSconf and retweeting quotes from accounts that live-tweet Conference are great ways to do so. You could also create a cute picture with your favorite quote and pin it on Pinterest. Or share a video of your favorite talk on Facebook. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re feeling nervous about sharing, start by simply following the LDS Church on Twitter and Instagram, and liking the page on Facebook. President Thomas S. Monson and other general authorities also have social media accounts that you can follow. This small act can indicate to others your beliefs, and perhaps encourage them to talk to you about them.

Due to Elder Bednar’s exhortation, I feel that we all have responsibility to share “authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy” messages. And Conference weekend is a great place to start.

Happy Conference Weekend to you all! #PreparetoShare

Sam Lund, Social Media Advisor

P.S. See here  or here for other great ways to share the gospel through general conference.

What I Wish I Would Have Known (Part One): Marriage

by Alissa Holm

My oldest sister and her husband on their wedding day, August 21, 1999.

The experience of marrying another person is likely the biggest transition a person will ever make in their life. Each person goes into a marriage with their own set of values, beliefs, traditions, experiences, and testimony, and is expected to join with another to create a united eternal unit. While this experience may sound blissful from the outside, often this “clashing of minds” isn’t quite so easy from the inside.

Before I write any further, I should probably explain that I am not married, nor do I claim to know much about the subject. But in my associations and conversations with the married couples that I do know, I often hear them sticking in their two cents here and there about what they wish they would have known before they got married. Each of them has developed advice based on their experiences that they want to impart to us “unmarrieds” to help in our relationships and future marriages. And I’ll be the first to admit—I love hearing their tips so that I can better know what to expect once I reach that phase too.

I have polled my close family, friends, and coworkers to come up with a list of ideas and experiences LDS women say they wish they would have know prior to their own weddings and marriages. No matter your relationship status, try reading through at least a few of these. You might be surprised at what you can learn!

Newlywed Life

  1. Surprises are inevitable. “No matter how well you think you may know your future spouse, you’re bound to find out something new the first day you’re married,” says my co-worker Sarah.
  2. Recognize that differences will emerge. “I wish I would have known that when two people get married, they bring two entirely different cultures into one house,” says my friend Kaitlyn. It’s important to understand that while your spouse may cook rice differently, clean the bathroom differently, or do the dishes differently, it doesn’t mean that their way is wrong. Be willing to compromise on these things!
  3. “Any traits, positive or negative, you see in your future spouse will be amplified as soon as you’re married,” says my sister, Lara. The old saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin rings true—“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-closed afterward.”
  4. Take some time for yourselves before you have kids. While this is a topic that is personal to all couples, most of the people I talked with expressed the importance of taking the necessary time before having children to enjoy each other’s company, get to know each other, and travel. Once you have kids, your lives will never be the same.

Your Married Relationship

  1. You don’t have to be brutally honest with each other all the time. “Sometimes, things are better left unsaid if they will hurt your spouse,” my sister, Lara, tells me.
  2. Fall in love with your spouse on this inside as well as the outside. We all age and change physically over time, usually for the worse. This bit of advice comes from my sister as well, who has been married for 11 years—enough time for a few new wrinkles and grey hairs to appear. Yet, I still look at the two of them and can see that they are just as in love now as they were 11 years ago.  
  3. Put his needs in front of yours. “When you are single the only person you really need to worry about and take care of is yourself—making yourself the best possible,” says my friend Jani. “But when you’re married, you have to cook, clean, budget, earn money, etc., with someone else.” She explains that this works well if you have a Christlike attitude, but if you don’t, Satan will try to find his way in and change your attitude to one of selfishness.   
  4. Remember, he can’t read your mind. If you have something on your mind, just tell him, don’t bother dropping hints. Communication is key!

Your New Family

  1. “Kill your in-laws and new family with love,” says my friend Kaitlyn. She also recommends not complaining to your spouse about their family—these are the people, other than you, that they love the most. “Be kind and love, love, love,” she says. “Chances are, you’ll end up falling in love with them as well.”
  2. Remember, you marry the family too. “As much as you want to think that you two get to run away and live happily ever after by yourselves, that is not true,” says my friend Jani. “He will want to spend time with his family (which is a good thing), and you will want to spend time with yours.” And remember to be yourself—don’t try to be someone else just to impress them.
  3. Don’t keep score. “If you spend time with his family one year, don’t think that it’s your house for Christmas the next year. If you see one family every week and the other once a year, it doesn’t matter because everyone wins—it’s not a competition,” says Jani.

 

So there you have it: a few basic tidbits of advice from married couples of all ages.

Whether you’re single, engaged, newly married, or have been married for several years, hopefully you can benefit from or at least relate to these points.

 

Have any advice of your own? Feel free to comment below—we’d love to hear from you!

Five Ways To Eat Healthier in College

by Amanda Ricks

Eating healthy while in college can be a daunting task. Fast food restaurants, particularly ones with a dollar menu, are cheap and easily accessible, and this convenience can sometimes outweigh the negative consequences of eating foods that have been fried, saturated, or greased.

The following are some tips for cleaning up your diet:

  1. Stock your refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables. When it comes to a late night craving, you won’t feel guilty if you’ve snacked on carrots or grapes rather than a doughnut or chocolate cake.
  2. Plan time for your meals. If you plan time, you are more likely to eat a balanced and nutritious meal.
  3. Don’t always fall for the “free candy” gimmicks thrown at you by different clubs. Generally, the piece of taffy isn’t worth the time or signing a piece of paper. If the treat is your sole incentive for going to meetings, perhaps you could better spend your time making yourself a healthier meal that can fill you with nutrients.
  4. Make a shopping list. If you buy food and have meals planned, it will mostly end with pleasing results for your body and your pocketbook.
  5. Take healthy snacks to campus with you. If you have some almonds or dried fruit with you, you are less likely to buy a high-fat, high-sugar candy bar because you’re hungry in between classes. Additionally, carry water around with you on campus. Staying hydrated is key to being healthy.

Eating healthy in college can be affordable if the necessary time is put in. Who knows? Maybe next time you are thinking about making cookies for that cute boy in your ward, you can take him a plate of carrots instead.

Realizing Love’s Loss

by Laura Nava

The cultural ideals set for love relationships between men and women appear beautiful and enticing. Thousands of books and movies portray the most exquisite romantic situations. Holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the pinnacle of all romantic holidays—Valentine’s Day—suggest the absolute importance of romantic love expressions in modern American society. While celebrating love for each other is wonderful in itself, false expectations and affectation of genuine love are a byproduct of the over-romancing tendencies within the culture. Obsession with these idealized romantic expectations, or romance addiction, and lack of consciousness deteriorate the ability to maintain authentic relationships. Solutions are available to those who choose to change—the addiction can be cured.

In her book Escape from Intimacy, Anne Shaef identifies the dangers of romance addiction. In short, romance addiction is a condition that compels the addict to crave romance and its accoutrements to unhealthy levels. A few of the symptoms found commonly in society include being in love with the idea of romance and moving from one “cause” to another. A cause according to Shaef means going above and beyond what is necessary in romantic scenarios. Moving from one cause to another leads directly into the final symptom of romance addiction—feeling disappointed simply because the setting is not romantic and dreamlike.1 In the end, the romance addict goes from one cause to the next in search of pity and praise but never feels satisfied. Normal life begins to lose its luster.

 In the classic film, A Brief Encounter by Noel Coward, the main character Laura exemplifies these manifestations of romance addiction at various points within the story.2 Laura allows herself to slide into an affair due to her lack-luster marriage and the romantic settings of her extramarital escapades. Near the end of the movie, she appears to break the spell that romance addiction has cast. This movie demonstrates a typical affair showing that romance addiction gradually leads to detrimental characteristics that may have lasting effects.

The highly problematic nature of romance addiction presents itself in low self-esteem, vagueness (i.e. playing games or being hot and cold), and the ability to create a sense of instant intimacy. These characteristics portray an elegant romantic relationship in movies or books, yet they are undesirable in a real and tangible relationship.3 Low self-esteem can create a person who fishes for compliments. The labels witty and coy mask undesirable vagueness. And let us not forget the love-at-first-sight encounters that are highly celebrated but rarely turn into lasting relationships.

As romance addiction progresses the ugliness of the disease shows itself in the destructive effect it has on a person’s love-relationships. Romance addicts are left with little or no moral substance for them to give in a real love relationship. This leads to the destruction of love relationships between the couple, friends, and family.4 Devaluing the opinions of loved ones and purposefully acting in opposition to them are both signs that an individual is losing touch with reality. The fruit of love includes the gift of yourself—or more specifically your self. Self is the innermost genuine portion of an individual. The cankering of the self, which occurs throughout the stages of love addiction disease, leads to the root of the issue—the inability to give deeply to the love relationship.

Love addiction can be cured through consciousness—being aware of how we affect one another. The gift of real love is manifest in day-to-day caring and sacrifice, not in a box of chocolates or a vase on holidays. The book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert Johnson delves into the details of how men and women have come to a state of ignorance to self. The book shows that such ignorance creates significant personal and cultural dilemmas. In order to give of one’s self, a person must have the ability to understand and share what they have to offer.

Johnson also exposes the common practice of blaming other people in relationships and the unhealthy emotional environment it creates. “Usually, we blame other people for failing us; it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps it is we who need to change our own unconscious attitudes—the expectations and demands we impose on our relationships and on other people.”5 These unrealistic expectations justify unhappiness, oftentimes leading to the dissolution of a love relationship. Gaining an awareness of and taking responsibility for one’s self creates a more successful love pattern to follow than the romantic ideal of being saved from reality by one’s true love. Remember—every individual has a valid and valuable self to offer. As we come to know our own limitations we won’t set expectations of others that they can’t meet.

Romantic expectations tend to push out rational thinking, which undermines the process of recognizing self and relating to others as equals to our self. Consciousness of self becomes integral to finding and maintaining genuinely loving relationships. “Ultimately, the only enduring relationships will be between couples who consent to see each other as ordinary, imperfect people and who love each other without illusion and without inflated expectations.”6 As individuals, we set realistic expectations for ourselves and recognize our personal limitations. If this is acceptable for the individual self, the question to answer is: why would the same practice not suffice for someone who we profess to love? Deeply caring relationships cannot exist if we continually place divine expectations on regular human beings. As we reject the hero and love goddess fantasies, reality allows a practical version of love to exist.

Placing ourselves in the mindset of reality can result in change. As with any other addictions, the addiction of divine expectations must be identified, accepted, and proactively eradicated from daily life. This process is, and always will be, a hard thing to accomplish, yet it is where solutions flourish. One of the first steps to eradication is acknowledging that you have a problem. Awareness is the key to finding help. Sometimes help comes in the form of self-education and goal setting. In other cases, helping yourself means seeking professional, psychological intervention. Whether you choose the former, the latter, or somewhere in between—the outcome of a healthier outlook on love will be worth the work.

Love is an integral part of everyone’s lives. Actively partaking of its happy effects is contingent on the ability to take responsibility for self and allow others the same opportunity. The unrealistic expectations of romanticism reject the self and thereby create a negative environment where love will not survive. The skills to engage in genuine love do not come easily in our romantically charged society, but learning how to find the appropriate balance of romance is achievable. The first steps to the process of giving and receiving genuine love are recognizing and then rejecting the pervasive nature of romance and its demands. As a culture we love love. Let’s keep it alive by keeping it real.

Endnotes
1. Anne Wilson Schaef, Escape from Intimacy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 47.
2. Noel Coward, A Brief Encounter (Universal, 1946).
3. Schaef, Escape from Intimacy, 48.
4. Ibid., 49.
5. Robert A. Johnson, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983), xii.
6. Ibid, 110.


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