Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Page 2 of 35

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!


“Special Time”

The year is 1991, my husband and I just had our fifth child, and the oldest is only seven. In the next seven years, we will add four more children to our family. I loved having all of our kids close in age; our home seemed like a constant party to me, and I love parties. What we lacked in peace and quiet, we made up for in planned chaos.

However, there was a certain problem that began to stand out in that memorable year of 1991: I began to notice that moms are always having to say, “no” in one form or another. Needless to say, when five young children were repeatedly asking for individual things such as wanting to go to a certain fast-food place, begging me to play Barbies with them, or asking if they can help me put gas in the car, I would have to reluctantly respond with, “not this time.” Saying, “no” to five kids, all day long, was wearing on me, emotionally. Don’t get me wrong; we did fun things all the time, every day, but it was always in a group setting. I longed for the chance to create one-on-one time with each child so that I could be a “yes” mom. I needed to come up with an invention that would satisfy me.

Plato said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and it was necessary that I invent something that would turn me into a “yes” mom instead of a “not this time” mom. The day of invention came and there was no question as to what to call it. Out of desperation to be a “yes” mom and to be able to be alone with each child, I easily named my invention “special time.” Once I had a name, I came up with a plan. The first thing I did was to choose a night of the week that our family could set aside for individual “special time.” The next step was to write on the family calendar, on that night, each week, the name of one of the five children, until each child had had a turn. My plan included the goal of each child getting to do something they wanted with each parent. I wrote the names of the children, in birth order; Stephanie, Brian, Chuck, Missy, and Emily. Then I alternated “mom” and “dad” with each child. Therefore, it would take ten weeks for all of the kids to have had a “special time” with each parent.

I was determined that this goal would not be like a New Year’s goal where it would fizzle out within a few weeks. We needed simple “special time” rules so that we could continue this for the duration of raising our family. The first rule was that it could only last about an hour. The next rule was that “special time” would not become a “shopping spree.” This was a time to enjoy each others’ company and to be able to say, “yes.” The last rule was that each child could choose where or what they wanted to eat and what they wanted to do for an activity. Many of our “special times” were spent driving to pick up whatever fast food they wanted and then coming home to watch one of their favorite videos. We had a room we could go in, to be alone, and the rule was always that the other parent would be sure to take care of the other four children so that “special time” would not be interrupted.

It took no time at all to realize what a blessing this idea was. It was so peaceful to be in the car with just one child; I could ask all the questions I wanted and listen to everything they had to say, never being interrupted by either a more talkative child or a baby crying. And the best thing of all? If they asked to help me put gas in the car, I could say, “yes!” I immediately reveled in my new life of being a “yes” mom!

One “special time” that stands out to me was the time my four-year-old son had chicken pox. It was his time for “special time” but obviously we could not go anywhere where there were other people. His choice for dinner was McDonalds and his choice for an activity was to drive around and look at the Christmas lights. We went through the drive-thru to get our food and then proceeded to drive around town enjoying the beauty of the lights everywhere. After about twenty minutes, he asked if we could go home. This night together was proof that “special time” could be as simple as it needed to be, yet special enough to stay in my memory for over twenty-five years.

My “invention” was out of the necessity, for me, to be a “yes” mom. Your invention can be anything you need it to be. Everyone in your life deserves to feel special, whether it be immediate family, friends, small children, adult children, relatives, or colleagues. Choose who it is that you feel needs your extra attention and set aside some reasonable amount of time to be with them. I promise that you will quickly feel the blessing of one-on-one time, and that one day, you will look back and hold those memories in your heart as some of the finest in your life.

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.


Killer Recipes: Fixed-Up Cake from a Box

This is a super easy and cheap recipe that will impress anyone!
Be creative with flavors and frostings; you can even throw in
marshmallow fluff or Nutella. Professional cake without the effort,
just don’t tell anyone (it will be your secret that it is box cake)!

1 Box of Cake Mix
1 Small Box of Instant Pudding
½ Cup of Warm Water
½ Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 Cup of Sour Cream
4 Eggs

Mix all the ingredients together and place in a greased pan (can
vary in size) Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.


Overcoming the Daily Downs in Your Marriage

Wake up on time, work out, get the kids to school, pick up the groceries, drop off the package, visit your sick friend, clean that mess in the backyard, go to work, get along with your coworkers, put gas in the car, get in a petty argument with your spouse, get over the petty argument, scold the dog for breaking the lamp . . . are you feeling stressed yet? Daily hassles are a part of every married couple’s life. They kind of suck, huh? But! Although they may never disappear, they can become bearable and less stressful, if we know how to deal with them in a positive way.

As a married college student, I am finding my family adaptation and resiliency class to be extremely helpful. I am learning about how to help families, including my own, deal with many different causes of stress, including daily hassles. I will include one of the concepts we have studied that can help take the unavoidable stressors in our lives and turn them into positive learning experiences.

We all have daily tasks that can start to pile up throughout the course of a day. These stressors are real, and I want to focus on is the stressor of daily marital distress.

Whether there was a mess made in the kitchen, your spouse disciplining your children in a way you did not agree with, your being late to leave, or an argument about that mistake your spouse made last week, marital distress often occurs daily. What causes these daily stresses to happen? I mean, you both know you love each other and there are plenty of great times. So, why do there have to be so many stresses from what seem to be petty arguments? A good place to start looking to fix the problem is in communication.

Communication. That thing we use to say I love you, express gratitude, create inside jokes, and form a relationship could be the same thing causing so many daily marital stressors. Sometimes tensions are high and tempers are short due to all the responsibilities we hold in our lives, and we explode over a simple cup of milk our spouse spilt at breakfast. Then, we say things we don’t think about and don’t mean. It just comes out leaving both parties hurt and stressed. I have seen this same process happen in my marriage. I get frustrated and start to complain without thinking about what I should say first.

My mother once made a cross stich for me that said, “Forgive quickly, kiss slowly,” and I think it applies in this situation. Instead of being quick to anger and slow to rationality, we should be quick to forgive and slow to respond (which can also lead to kissing!). For those minor, harmless daily hassles in a marriage, we need to have better communication. We need to slow down our reactions to analyze the situation and respond rationally, without high emotions leading the response. When we do this, we can resolve the stress quickly before it turns into a monster snowball rolling over the rest of our day.

This is one of many solutions to the daily hassles in a marital relationship. It may not be the solution for every hassle, but it is definitely one to be recognized and considered in our pursuit to ease our daily burdens. Good and healthy communication is arguably the most important aspect of marriage. Let’s all take time to practice it in the stressful moments of life. In those moments, anger might seem easier, but it’s pausing to communicate that will lead to a positive resolution.


New Month, New You

To all of our Stance readers, Happy March 1st!

Although the happy feelings of Valentine’s Day are over, that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue showing our love for others. For me, I’ve never seen Valentine’s Day as only one noteworthy day of love to one significant person, but to everyone! It’s a day to help others not only feel of your love but also of God’s love for them. Helping others see and reach their potential is one of the most beautiful things we can do to help others come unto Christ and know that we are each a child of God. I’m making it a goal this month/year to love others and show them my appreciation more often than just on holidays. Who’s with me?!

Here are some ideas of things that you can do today to help others feel loved, without breaking the bank!

  • Call someone to let them know you’re thinking about them, and share your love and appreciation for them in your life.
  • Send a snail mail letter. I think a handwritten letter is one of the kindest gestures you can give. It shows that someone values you enough to sit down, ponder on what to say, and use their time towards making you smile. Pass it on!
  • Make someone their favorite meal instead of going out to eat.
  • Leave sticky notes around the house or on someone’s car to say that you’re thinking about them.
  • Pick someone up and go on a drive. Talk and enjoy your time together.
  • Make a movie fort, and enjoy a night in together with some popcorn.
  • Create a treasure hunt of your favorite memories with someone.
  • Simply listen.
  • Smile at strangers.
  • Send a text with a picture of your favorite memory with a certain person.
  • Pray for your enemies.
  • Pray for an opportunity to serve someone today.

Whatever you decide to do, help at least one person know that he or she is valued and are enough. So here’s to you, our Savior and loving example, and every gem we come in contact with every single day.


Alexa Canady—First African American Woman Neurosurgeon

In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to do an article about an important African American figure in history from the realm of families, whether it be science, education, research, etc. I found a woman whose biography touched me, and she has touched the lives of many through her work.

Alexa Canady started with normal, American beginnings like most of us. While growing up in Michigan, her parents instilled in her a love for learning and a need for working hard. These attributes helped Canady reach the achievements she made throughout her life. After attending the University of Michigan for college, she continued there for medical school. Although she faced difficulty on her path to becoming a neurosurgeon, including discouragement from her advisers to pursue that career, she persevered using the same desire and hard work that her parents had taught her. After completing medical school, an internship, and a residency, Canady became the first African American woman neurosurgeon.

Canady specialized in pediatric neurosurgery and worked with various neurological illnesses including issues such as trauma injuries. In 1987, at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, she became the director of neurosurgery. Her accomplishments and contributions were great throughout her life as a pediatric neurosurgeon. She retired in 2001, moved to Florida, and continued to work as a part-time neurosurgeon at the Pensacola Sacred Heart Hospital in Florida. She never stopped giving of her amazing talents and abilities, which blessed the lives of many families and children.

If you would like to learn more about Alexa Canady, you can visit her biography on, which is where the majority of the information for this article came from. You can also visit various other websites that commemorate her marvelous contributions to improving the lives of children.


Killer Recipes: Skillet Chicken and Veggies


This recipe has become one of my go-tos. It’s super easy, tasty, and makes me feel healthy because of all the vegetables I’m eating! It’s a great quick and low-maintenance dinner for your family—or, if you’re a college student like me, it can be dinner and leftovers for the rest of the week!


1 ½–2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 zucchini

1 yellow straight-necked squash

1–2 bell peppers

1 C broccoli

(You can really use whatever vegetables you want; just make it about 4 cups total. Some other good vegetables to try are carrots and cauliflower.)

3–4 cloves of garlic

1 packet marinade

(I like to use Grill Mates Mesquite marinade, but again, you can choose to your liking. Along with the marinade, you’ll need whatever ingredients are needed to make it—usually about ¼– ½ cups of oil and some water.)


  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Make the marinade following the instructions on the packet, then let the chicken marinate for at least 15–20
  3. While the chicken is marinating, chop all the vegetables.
  4. Mince the garlic.
  5. Place the chicken and garlic in a medium skillet. Sauté on medium-high heat until chicken is browned and cooked all the way through.
  6. Remove the chicken from the skillet and add all the vegetables. Sauté until browned.
  7. Add the chicken back into the vegetable mixture and stir over low heat for 3 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!

Note: You can use 1–2 T of coconut oil to sauté the chicken and vegetables if you want, but I’ve found that there’s usually enough oil in the marinade already to get the job done.

By Natasha Andersen

« Older posts Newer posts »