Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Page 2 of 32

A: Articulation Makes all the Difference in Marriage

couple-1838940_640In addition to merging traditions, articulation is another important aspect of the transition to marriage. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines articulation as “the action of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type.” Articulation can create some of the most beautiful conversations in a marriage, but it can also create some of the most destructive conversations in a marriage. A husband or wife can form a mixture of words to express their undying love to their spouse; a husband or wife can also form a mixture of words to express their frustration or anger with their spouse’s shortcomings or honest mistakes. A spouse holds the greatest potential to not only lift up their spouse but also to hurt them and put them down.

The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a nice concept but is not true in reality. Sometimes I poorly express an idea or concern to my husband, leading to an argument that is simply a huge misunderstanding. Before relaying a vital message to my husband, I try to remember to think through what I am saying, and what it really means. It is necessary to bring up concerns and have difficult conversations in a marriage, but these things can be done tactfully. Think about what you are going to say and how that will make your spouse feel. Even concerns and requests can be made in an uplifting manner. Build up your spouse with a compliment or praise before trying to make a compromise on a specific subject. For example, I tell my husband how fashionably he dresses before asking him to put his clothes away when he changes instead of throwing his clothes in a corner; I tell him that this will help keep his fashionable clothes in good condition. Take a deep breath before thickly laying down all your personal frustrations that might otherwise come off as frustrations toward your spouse.

There are many ways to develop the art of articulation, but one last piece of advice that I will share is to learn from others and their mistakes and triumphs. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, or any person that you trust how he or she has achieved effective communication in marriage. Different methods work for different people. Keep working until you have found the method of communication that works for you and your spouse.

Language is a beautiful blessing from Heavenly Father. Language is what allows nations and people to learn from each other, to grow, and to thrive. Learn from your spouse, grow with your spouse, and thrive with your spouse. The art of articulation is learned through a lifetime of practice; but don’t give up, because the best things in life come through lots of challenges and lots of practice.

 By Elizabeth Hansen
This is the second post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

I’m not Lucky, I’m Blessed

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Sometimes I can hardly believe my good fortune!

I have food to eat (more than I need), clothes to wear (more than I need), a roof over my head (more space than I need), friends who care about me (can never have too many of those), a church to belong to (keeps me humble), stores to shop at (definitely more than I need), and a family of my own (I’m open to more grandkids!).

Some might say, “Wow. You are really lucky.”

But I prefer to say, “Wow! I am so blessed!”

What’s the difference? Gratitude. If we think all good things came from luck, then there is no reason to show gratitude to anyone. But I am positive that every good thing in my life is a gift from my Heavenly Father. He has showered me with an abundance of goodness. Does this mean I have everything I want? Am I rich? Have all my troubles disappeared?  Unfortunately, no. I do not have enough money to go to New Zealand, I haven’t been clothes shopping in months, and I would be thrilled if I could buy a new car. But I don’t need the latest and greatest to be happy.  I can be content with what I have.

No, I’m not lucky. I’m blessed.

By Phyllis Rosen

 

M: Merging Traditions

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A lot of the struggle that comes with married life is the transition from being an individual to being in a family setting where traditions are foundational. Growing up is chock full of traditions, and these traditions shape you as a person. Since no two families have the same traditions, clashing can happen when your foundational traditions don’t line up with your spouse’s.

Here are some things to consider when merging your traditions:
  1. Explain to each other those traditions that have been most influential in your lives and why you would like to continue practicing them. Think about the effect your family’s traditions had on your life and rate them on a scale from neutral to highly beneficial. Talking about this with your spouse will solidify feelings you have about these traditions, and indicate to your partner how you feel toward them. This discussion will help you to ease the merging of your traditions without having a potentially destructive argument when things don’t pan out as you expected.
  2. Make new traditions. If you and your spouse don’t agree on a certain tradition, your best course of action might be to create a new one for just your family. And who knows? Maybe you’ll like this tradition better than the one you grew up with. It’s always good to take a minute to re-evaluate your traditions and tweak them to better suit your needs. Also, I’ve found that compromise is always a good way to go in your marriage; not everything can be just the way you are used to. Now that you are a ‘we’, you have to look out for your spouse and make sure you are accommodating their wants and needs as well.
  3. Remember that no amount of traditions is too many. Just because you’ve established the amount of traditions your family had doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You can have as many traditions as you want, as long as you can handle them. For example, my husband grew up memorizing hymns to sing as a family as they drove to church each Sunday, whereas my family didn’t do anything like that. Even though there was no compromise that needed to be made because there weren’t any conflicting traditions there, we can still add it to our tradition list. Small traditions like that can benefit your family greatly, so don’t leave them out just because your family never did anything like them.

There are many ways to merge traditions in your new family. Just be sure that however you go about doing it, you’re not being insensitive or stubborn. Go into your new family with the mindset that a lot of things will be different, and that’s okay— keep your mind open to new possibilities that will enrich and enhance your life. But with all this change, don’t forget the experiences you had with your family traditions that made you who you are today. Those memories will always be priceless to you, and no amount of change or compromise should take those away.

By Caroline Averett

This is the first post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E with you, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

4 Steps that Got Me into Family History

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Getting into family history usually takes overcoming one of the greatest obstacles around: the sheer difficulty of an unfamiliar, complex endeavor. It can be a little daunting, but here are some ways to ease into family history work.

 

Start by Indexing

Indexing is a great way to start because it is a well-defined task. All you need to do is figure out how to read old handwriting and enter that information in the program. Furthermore, it will give you a good basis for finding your ancestors later, as you know very well which letters are likely to have been confused and incorrectly entered by someone that indexed the record you seek.

Research a Particular Family

Start with a family that is easy to research. If you have the option, research one of your ancestors that lived in the US in the 1800s. Online records are abundant for such ancestors. And don’t even worry if they have been researched before. It is probably better if they have been anyways.

This approach will help you familiarize yourself with how to find records (for example, notice the different spellings of your ancestor’s name from record to record), how to evaluate records (learn tips for evaluating records and see how they compare with your family; you may even find something that was missed before), and how to love doing family history work (see the next tip).

Find the Human

Focus on finding the human—not just records—when doing family history. If you only see text on pages, family history can be dull, but discovering insights into your ancestors’ lives is likely to be fascinating. Stories are especially valuable finds. One of my favorites is about my great, great grandpa Andrew. He made it to Utah as a seven-year old boy, and was asked if he had crossed the plains on foot. He responded that he had not; he had ridden his stick horse. With research I found that, later on, he was a great horse rider that managed to stay atop a wild, bucking horse, he bought a car and was determined to tame it as well, and he was very disappointed when he became older and his grand kids managed to beat him in a foot race.

Do It with other People

The final step that got me into family history was an expression of interest in family history by a cute girl I want to impress. This is certainly the best way to get into important and challenging things, as little can beat the motivational power associated with it. But you don’t need a cute girl or boy to motivate you; doing family history work alongside other family and friends can be a great motivation.

As I do it with my mom (and the cute girl) I find that we can bounce ideas off of each other, take advantage of each other’s strengths, correct each other on occasion, spend less time wondering why our search gave us no results, and overall just have a blast as we interact with each other and tackle together a great task.

By Austin Tracy

Easy Plant-Based Meals That Won’t Break the Bank

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Meal planning, right? We’ve all been there. Finding healthy, easy, and relatively inexpensive meal ideas isn’t for the faint of heart. As a vegan and gluten and soy free college student, I’ve come to find this out first hand!

Here are a couple of general principles I follow to keep my meals as cheap as possible:

 

  • Shop out of bulk bins as much as possible. Often items cost much, much less this way. Buying out of bulk bins is especially convenient when buying some ingredients for a new recipe that you don’t have on hand already. You can get just the amount you need, and then next time (if the recipe turns out, that is) you can stock up if you choose.That keeps the trial and error process of finding go-to meals as cost effective as possible. Some of the best bulk bins I’ve found are at Winco and Sprouts.

 

  • Use dried spices instead of fresh ones. Whether a spice is dried or fresh when it goes into a recipe often doesn’t significantly, if at all, alter the taste of the recipe. Buying dried spices can be cheaper and much more convenient. I don’t know about you, but when I have bought fresh spices here and there, I use a tiny little bit and then the rest goes to waste. Also, the jars of dried spices often have equivalency information so you can be sure you’re putting the right amount into your recipe.

Luckily, I have found a few good recipes that vegans and non-vegans alike have enjoyed, so hopefully some of these will ease the struggle for you just a bit. Besides being delicious, each of these recipes and meal ideas is also healthy AND easy AND relatively inexpensive. Three for three. The following are five recipes that I hope will be beneficial to you and your family:

 

Lentil Brown Rice Salad

This is a family favorite that makes a nice, light spring or summer meal when paired with a fresh green salad, cooked veggies, grilled or baked chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, or even grilled tofu if you are vegetarian. I’ve even eaten this as a stand-alone lunch before.

1 ½  cups cooked brown rice (cooked in veggie broth)

1 cup cooked lentils*, cooled

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

⅓ cup sliced green onions, including tops

1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tsp fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Combine rice, lentils, tomatoes, onions, and parsley in medium bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl; add to rice mixture and toss. Chill. Makes 4 servings.

*To cook lentils, combine ½ cup dry lentils with 1 cup water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.

 

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Another family favorite! Quinoa is packed with nutrition and is a complete protein by itself, so this salad can be a well-rounded meal by itself since it contains unrefined carbs, protein, vegetables, and a little healthy fat. Again, this can be paired with salad, other veggies, lean meat or tofu, or eaten by itself.

1 cup raw quinoa

1 ¾ cups water or veggie broth

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tsp grated lime zest

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼-½ cup diced red bell pepper

¼-½ cup diced cucumber

1 roma tomato, chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro

2 green onions

⅓ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water or broth, and 1 Tbsp of oil. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, and 1 Tbsp oil.

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Add beans, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with the lime mixture and toss gently to coat.

Serve warm or chilled. Makes 4 servings and 6 cups total.

 

Baked Potatoes

A baked potato bar is a great way for families to eat together while letting family members personalize their own meals. Some of my favorite toppings as a vegan are salsa, green onions, and guacamole. For non-vegans, sour cream, cheese, and butter are some additional options. Chili or leftover chunky soup or stew are other tasty toppings. A simple green salad really compliments these well, and feel free to add meat or tofu to round out the meal, if desired.

I usually follow this aluminum foil oven baking method from “The Kitchn” website.

 

Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

Some people live on Ramen noodles their freshman year of college (and for the duration in a lot of cases– let’s be real); however, I lived on this stuff. It’s quick and easy, and you can substitute ½ to ¾ a can of plain diced tomatoes for the fresh tomato called for in the recipe for convenience. Bulk bins are a great place to look for affordable prices on cashews.You could use whole wheat or brown rice pasta to make this very healthy, or you could even swap out pasta for quinoa. Add a cooked or raw veggie on the side and you’ve got a complete, hearty, nutritionally balanced meal!

Here is the recipe.

 

Easy Vegetable Curry

This goes together so quickly and so easily! It has a very mild flavor, as far as curries go, so don’t be scared if you’re weary of strong flavors. This goes great over rice, quinoa, or even pasta. Because it’s a vegetable curry, no additional vegetables are required to make this a complete meal–bonus! As always, a side of lean meat would be a healthy addition for non-vegetarians.

Here is the recipe.

 

Happy cooking!

By Samantha Bullock

 

Why Go to Church?

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By Phyllis Rosen

There are many people who ask themselves this question every week. Sometimes they can’t seem to think of a reason they ought to attend church. But they come up with plenty of reasons to not go:

  •                 The kids are a handful…I don’t even hear what’s being said!
  •                 I’ve heard the lessons before, there’s nothing new.
  •                 The teachers are boring.
  •                 I’m tired/sick/grumpy/hungry.
  •                 I don’t have any friends.
  •                 It’s too far away.
  •                 It starts too early /it starts too late/it goes over lunchtime.

Although I’ve experienced each of those feelings, it’s not enough to keep me from going to church.

I learned a valuable lesson ten years ago when I returned to Nebraska for my high school reunion. I went alone. (No sense dragging my husband 700 miles to talk to people he doesn’t know.) I spent the night in my hometown, planning to drive the forty-one miles to church the next morning. Somehow, I forgot to set my alarm. When I woke up it was less than an hour until church started. I raced to get ready, skipping everything but the essentials, and drove as fast as I dared to the chapel. The entire drive I felt an overwhelming urge to get to the church. I arrived just as the sacrament hymn was starting.

As I sank into the pew (can you sink into the pews?) I was overcome with relief and with a great sense of belonging, as if I had arrived home. I can’t really explain it, but I knew in that moment that being in sacrament meeting, partaking of the sacrament, and feeling the Spirit of the Lord was a source of peace and goodness in my life.

There are many reasons I go to church. But for me the most important reasons are these:

  1. Partaking the sacrament gives me a chance to reflect on the week and renew my commitment to do better the next week.
  2. Singing the hymns (when I actually pay attention to the words) fills my soul with love.
  3. I get revelation for my family during lessons or talks. Really.
  4. I receive the blessings that come from obedience.
  5. I need the messages there to sustain me during the week.

Not every week has inspiring talks and stellar lessons. But over a lifetime, being there and listening to the messages and the Spirit has shaped me into the person I am. Each week I add another layer to the armor of God, and slowly but surely I become a better person.

 

 

Budgeting: Where the Real “Adulting” Begins

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Photo by Investment Zen

 

Budgeting is a fairly new development in my life. For years my financial planning was based on guestimation and knowing when my next paycheck would come through. I got by, but things completely changed for me two years ago when I took a family finance class. Since I’ve started budgeting, I have found a rewarding feeling of financial responsibility while still being able to do the things that I love. People make “adulthood” sound like the worst fate that you could ever face, but being financially responsible is an extremely rewarding experience that comes with more freedom than many of us have ever had. If you’ve never budgeted, please, please, pleeeeease try. I promise, you won’t regret it! Here are some ways to help you get started.

Make a plan. Take the time each month to estimate your income: how much you make per hour multiplied by how many hours you anticipate working (when I’m not sure, I like to estimate on the lower side because then it’s like a bonus if I earn more than I budgeted). Once you’ve got that, list all of your expenses. Some things are easy (like rent and insurance payments), but others are trickier. How much do you think you spend on groceries? What is an acceptable amount for you to spend eating out each month or going to the movies? Budgeting bums some people out, but keep in mind that this is your budget. Figure out how much you want to spend eating out a month, but also figure out how much you want to save so you can go crazy on your birthday. It’s all about staying organized so YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO not about keeping you tied down. If you find that your budget was totally impractical, then rearrange some things. It’s a living, breathing document, not something that’s set in stone.

Plan for every dollar to go somewhere. While I was growing up, my financial mantra was to spend as little as possible so that I could save as much as I could. My first inclination in budgeting was to figure out how much I needed for my expenses and then to save everything else. This isn’t the worst way to handle your money, but it’s a hard way to live. I would feel guilty about any purchase that wasn’t 100% necessary to my survival. In my family finance class (shout out to Jeff Hill from BYU’s School of Family Life), I got some great advice that has helped me not get frustrated in my budgeting attempts. The first piece of advise is to assign a category for every dollar that I planned on earning. This meant that I would plan to pay my rent, my insurance, and my groceries, but I would also plan to pay into my savings account, into my eating out category, and into my travel fund, just as if they were other bills. Once I had an assignment for all of my money, I felt so much better. I could spend money on whatever I wanted, guilt-free, so long as I planned for it. Being responsible means more than just hoarding everything you can to stay on the safe side; it means realizing how much you have and working within that boundary.

Plan for the unexpected. I think we can all relate to the frustration that comes when we take the time to make a plan, but then things do not go according to the plan. I have definitely felt this while budgeting, but Dr. Hill taught me a solution that is simple and makes everything so much better. He encouraged us all to make a miscellaneous category on our budgets. It is too hard to plan on every expense that will come your way in a month. Unexpected things come up: your roommate’s birthday, your car’s oil change, or your dream coat goes on sale (just buy it now, it’s an investment). Since it’s impossible to plan for everything, just plan on making a miscellaneous category. By creating a miscellaneous category that you never plan to spend, you give yourself a cushion that allows life to happen. You can buy a birthday cake, take care of your car, and get that coat without feeling like a failure.

I love budgeting! It is such a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference in my day to day life. I sincerely hope that you give budgeting a try. It is 100% worth the effort!

 

Parenting tip #10:  Love Your Kids—No Matter What

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By Phyllis Rosen

Before writing this last article on parenting, I want to state something for the record:

I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

But I didn’t always know that. There were times during their upbringing when I wasn’t convinced they were all that wonderful. Each one, in his or her own way, caused some anxiety or fear or anger. At different stages of their lives, they were not very lovable.

But you must love them anyway, and of course, deep down you do. So how do you show that love during these difficult periods? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Here’s what my husband and I learned over the years:

1. Find just one positive thing to say each day.

When one of our kids was belligerent and prickly and almost impossible to interact with without getting into an argument, I prayed and prayed to know what to do. The answer was: Read the Book of Mormon.  As I read the Book of Mormon daily, something happened to my heart.   It softened.  And as it softened, I realized I needed to find something positive daily about this child.  As I mentioned positive things to him  (which were not easy to find), I found that the tension in the home decreased.

2. Let go of the things that don’t matter.  

One of our boys decided to pierce his ears. Later he grew his hair long.  Both actions were not what my husband and I wanted. However, neither action was life-threatening or had eternal consequences. We finally learned that the hair and the earrings were outward evidences of inward feelings. We decided to ignore the outward and concentrate on the inner.

3. Make home a refuge.

When one child made choices that were hard for our family to live with, a neighbor came over and gave great advice.   She said,  “No matter what, make your home the very best place to be.  Make it a safe place.  If your child leaves home, you will have less influence and less opportunity to set the example.” My husband and I decided to follow that advice. We did everything we could to make our home a place where our child felt loved, safe, and accepted.

4. Have patience.

We had another child who thought someone else—other than my husband and myself—was more qualified to give guidance and direction. This frustrated me greatly.  But a professional counselor told us to be patient and in time our child would figure out who really loved him or her, and would come back to us, the parents. And that was true.

5. Get professional help as needed.

One of our children got into trouble to the point that I could not live with the fear of what the long-term consequences might be. I finally went to a family counselor.  The result was that he validated my feelings, especially my fears. More importantly, he helped me to figure out what I could do to alleviate the fear and move in a positive direction.  We don’t have to bear every burden by ourselves. Professionals can help us get through tough times by applying their training and perspective.

6. Do all you can, then turn the rest over to Jesus Christ.

Only by turning our burdens to Jesus Christ can we get through the fear and the sorrow and the pain.   When we turn our worries over to Christ, we literally feel the burden being lifted from our shoulders.  This doesn’t mean that all the pain or sorrow or fear is gone.  But it means we know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our situation and will guide us through it.  Turning our burden over to the Savior enables us to find joy along a difficult journey.

7. Remember that time is measured to us differently than it is measured to God.

We do not have the benefit of seeing the end from the beginning.  We can’t know whether our child will change tomorrow or in ten years.  We need to put our trust in God and know that His timing is perfect.

8. Last of all, when your child seems unlovable, remember that this is your opportunity to develop Christ-like love.

I discovered that after I had gone through trials with less-than-lovable kids, I was much more tolerant and forgiving of others. I am a better person for having gone through the hard times. Looking back, I can see Heavenly Father’s hand, not only in my children’s lives, but in my life as well.

And now I know without a doubt, I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Everyone in Your Life

This Valentine’s Day we bring you ideas for showing love to everyone around you. You can make this love day extra special by giving more love to everyone in your life—from your Relief Society president to your mom. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Stance!

 

Relief Society President

As the Relief Society President blesses the lives of so many people, a stunning way to show love to her is to collect a note of appreciation from each person she blesses. The notes may then be assembled into a gigantic valentine from the whole ward. The way I have seen this done was each apartment in our ward got a cardstock paper to write the notes on. The papers were then collected, cut in different shapes, and pasted on a poster board with different colored papers next to each other, as far as that was possible. The results were so nice that it was even becoming of something related to the Relief Society.

- Austin Tracy

Twin

Other people may always get the two of you confused, and you’ll get on each other’s nerves, but at the end of the day, your twin will be the one who has always (literally) been and will always be there for you. Show your love simply by listening to her or him or making the food. Laugh together about that one time you did something and your twin got so mad or that one time you two conspired together to switch places so that your parents would get back together. Talk about the time when you two went to the movies and were the only ones in the theater. Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, it’ll help the most constant person in your life— your twin—know that you love them.

– Monica Allen

Brother

Depending on age and personality, brothers can be tricky people to show love to. Mine is 16 and he doesn’t exactly live for spontaneous displays of sibling love and affection from his sister. That fact makes me thankful that I do have at least one day a year to feel justified in unabashedly showing my love for him whether he likes it or not! This Valentine’s Day I’m going to keep things simple and just send him a quick text telling him how much I love him. I mean after all, you can never tell someone you love them too many times as long as you mean it, right? A funny and cheesy (or perhaps sweet and sentimental) card containing a few carefully written favorite sibling memories is an even more thoughtful way to let a brother know you appreciate him. A little treat would be a nice accompaniment as well. As long as your brother knows you’re thinking of him, even small and simple gestures can go a long way in enriching that sibling bond. Reaching out at all counts for a lot.

-Samantha Bullock

Dad

Whether you call him “dad,” “father,” or your “old man,” you can show love to your father figure this year on Valentine’s Day. Here are three ideas:
1. Write a thank-you note, email, or text: He’ll be thrilled to hear from you and to feel your heartfelt love and appreciation. Consider relating a specific experience where following his example has brought success or happiness in your life.
2. Give him a call: He’ll love the chance to talk with you one-on-one, especially if being at college means you don’t get to see each other or talk to each other very often.
3. Ask for advice: He’ll feel flattered that you are coming to him with questions, and you’ll get some top-notch advice on whatever you ask about. The bond between you will only grow.
Best of luck to you as you show appreciation to your dad this Valentine’s Day!

-Tyler Averett

Strangers

Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about loving the people we know. It can be a great opportunity to do service and show a little Christlike love. Whether it’s volunteering to help refugees, helping at a homeless center, visiting people in hospice care, or even just smiling at people as you pass them on the street, Valentine’s Day can be a day that can bring you closer to God and help other people feel God’s love as well.

-Cassy Hulse

Grandma

This year for Valentine’s Day, I want to reach out  to my grandmothers. These women have played a big role in my life, and I would love nothing more than to spend time with them next week. However, schedule conflicts don’t make that possible over these next few days. So instead, I have decided to send each of them a valentine. Reaching out doesn’t have to be big. Doing something simple can put a smile on someone’s face. I hope that my little notes will make their Valentine’s Days a bit brighter.

-Rebecca Cazanave

Grown-up Kids

Just because your children are grown and married doesn’t mean they don’t want to be loved in silly and fun ways. This year, surprise them with something new.  If they live close and have kids, show up with dinner for the kids and let the parents go out! Or invite them over for a valentine dinner complete with pink, heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top.  Another option (no matter where they live) is to write each of them a “love” letter. Tell them why they are precious to you, what great talents you see in them, or a favorite memory of a time spent with them. The key is show love to them when they aren’t expecting it.

-Phyllis Rosen

Neighbors

You may be best friends with your neighbors, or you may be practically strangers, but whatever your relationship with them, it’s always nice to show your love for the people that surround you. Give a little love this year by making a treat and ding-dong ditching it, or by cutting out hearts with nice messages on them to heart-attack their lawn. Giving service is a great way to show your love—I know that I tend to feel more loving when I step out of my comfort zone to love others.

-Cari Averett

In-Laws

During the Valentine season our thoughts of love and appreciation generally go straight for our immediate family, but what about our in-laws? In-laws also go to great lengths to make sure we feel loved and appreciated as if we were always a part of their family. Even a simple thank-you card dressed up as a valentine would mean the world to them. Give them a call along with your spouse and share your love and gratitude for all they do. Men, if you want to win some extra brownie points, you could even send your mother-in-law some flowers, chocolate, or whatever she likes!

-Elizabeth Hansen

Husband 
Many husbands go all out picking flowers and chocolates for their wives, but they definitely need some love on Valentine’s Day too. Most men will appreciate a heartfelt card. Try to list all the things you love about your hubby. Can you think of 52? If you can, take a deck of cards and cover one side in colored paper. Write one thing you love about him on each card, punch holes in one corner, and put them on a big O-ring. He’ll love reading all the reasons why you love him. Everyone says that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… so why not make him a nice candlelit dinner at home? You won’t have to worry about fighting the crowds at a fancy restaurant. After you eat, you can cuddle up to watch a romantic movie or look through your dating and wedding pictures. Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, focus on making him feel loved and it will be a special day for both of you.

-Mckenna Clarke

Sister
For all of you out there who have a very special girl you want to show some love to, I’ve got some tips. Maybe you don’t show appreciation to her very often, but Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to make up for that! I’m not talking about your wife, girlfriend, crush, or friend. I’m not even talking about your mom (though definitely make sure to show her some love). I’m talking about your sister! I have two sisters myself, both in high school, and this Valentine’s Day, I’m hoping to show them some appreciation. Here’s some suggestions from ideas I’ve come up with:
  • Take her out to lunch. Valentine’s Day dates usually aren’t until about dinner time anyway, so lunch is great to spend some time with her before.
  • Take her out to dinner. Neither of you have dates that night? Doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Plus, I’m not sure there’s a better people watching opportunity than dinner time on Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Give her a call! This might take a little coordination if you live in different time zones, but everyone can make time for a quick call. You can make it even more special by using Skype or FaceTime.
  • Write her a card! You gave your entire class a valentine in elementary school, so why not write one up with a little candy for your sister? It’s quick, easy, cheap, and she’ll love a little note. You can either mail it or send an e-card, so distance doesn’t have to be an issue.

-Austin Stutz

Roommates
Sure, Valentine’s Day is a day to show love to our family and romantic interests, but what about the people we live with? Friend or not, roommates hold a special place in our lives. After all, we share our bathrooms, our kitchen, our very home with them—and on Valentine’s Day we can share our love with them, too. Being their roommate, you have a special look into their lives and what makes them happy, so get creative and do something special! Clean the kitchen or upgrade that old, broken toaster or blender. Turn up the music and have a dance party or watch their favorite movie while eating chocolate hearts. Let them know you are grateful to have them in your life.

-Jess Olsen

Mom
Showing love to your mom on Valentine’s Day is easier when your family lives close. If you do happen to have this luxury, I suggest treating your mom to something special. Take her out to lunch or go for a long walk and talk—just the two of you. Think of all those years your mom spent changing your diapers, teaching you to walk, driving you to soccer practice, listening to your dating stories, or giving you advice on what to study, where to work, and how to find that special someone. Don’t you think you can find time to express your love for all your mom has done and continues to do for you? I am blessed to have a best friend for a mom. My mom is the first person I call when that cute guy asks me out and the first one to hear about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Now, since I’m not from Utah and don’t have the convenience of being able to see my mom on Valentine’s Day, I put my mind to the task of finding ways to show love even from far away. Take the time to write a note to your mom expressing your appreciation for everything she has done for you, then mail it to her! Nothing will put a smile on her face more than getting a note from you in the mail. If you are looking for a last-minute idea you can send multiple text messages throughout the day or even, make a FaceTime call to her! You’d be surprised how a little thing goes a long way.

-Camille Baker

Home Teachers

There are three types of home teachers: the ones that pretend you don’t exist, the ones who visit only once a month to put a check on their to-do list, and the ones who go above and beyond their calling. Regardless of which type they are, treat your home teachers for Valentine’s Day! Make them a treat and deliver it their doors. Instead of waiting for them to ask how they can help you, ask how you can help them. Offer to make them dinner or clean their dishes. Performing acts of service is the greatest way to show love and appreciation. How will I show my love for my home teachers? I think homemade enchiladas sounds like a great idea! What will you do to show love this Valentine’s Day?

-Naomi Hurd

Parenting Tip #9: Be in the Moment

Rosen 2010 613 (1)

Suppose Queen Elizabeth showed up unexpectedly at your home.  How would you respond?

A) Invite her in but continue to watch your Netflix. (only ten minutes left!)

B) Invite her in, talk to her, but at the same time post her picture to your Instagram.

C) Invite her in, make small talk while texting your friends to tell them about her!

D) Invite her in, sit and visit without any devices.

If you had trouble picking D, it might be time for digital counseling. Most adults would never treat a guest with such poor manners. But we seem to forget that our children should also be treated with good manners.  In today’s world, many people (parents) have trouble putting away their devices and living in the moment.

Children deserve our full attention. Babies learn how to communicate by watching their parents faces. They observe normal reactions:  smiles, frowns, laughter, crying, etc. These non-verbal cues help them learn the meaning of words and actions. Language skills are linked to thinking ability, social relationships, and reading and writing. In other words, the future success of your child depends greatly on their developing good language skills.  And that depends on you being in the moment with the child—looking the child in the eye and talking directly to him or her.

Although electronic devices are responsible for much of the distraction parents have while parenting, they are not the only problem. Work, church callings, desire to play (gaming, sports), and even household chores can cause parents to miss wonderful interaction opportunities.

jpg117Think play time. Children learn valuable social skills through face-to-face games. Playing games together helps children learn turn-taking, develop motor skills, and acquire conversational skills. Participating in these games requires hands-on for both parents and children.

But even more important than developing skills, children learn what’s most important to YOU by watching where you spend your time and your attention. If you are always on your phone, they quickly learn that that’s what you care about the most. No matter how much you TELL a child “you are important,” a child senses by your actions whether you really mean that or not.

When I was writing parenting tip #8—Play with your kids, I asked my daughter if she remembers playing together.   Her answer caught me by surprise. She told me that every time she came and asked me to play with her, I did. Now, not for one minute do I think that is 100% true.   I’m sure there were many times when I was too busy to “be in the moment”. But at the same time, it must be true that I stopped whatever I was doing often enough that her perception was that I always took the time to play.

Children grow up. The day will come when the house is empty of children and you have all the time in the world to clean, work, or surf the web. But you cannot recapture the time to get down, look your child in the eye, and listen to his or her heart. Make a commitment now to be in the moment.

For those of you attached to your phones, here are some practical ideas on how to have some device free time:

1. Have certain times during the day when you do NOT access your phone except to answer calls (screen the calls, answer only important ones). This means you are not looking at emails, Instagram, texting, etc.

2. Teach your children about phone-free times. Church, meal time, driving, movies, when company comes for short visits, bedtime, etc.

3. Choose to have device-free outings. When you take your child to the zoo, to the park, etc. decide to put your phone away and just enjoy the interaction. Watch their faces as they discover new adventures and experience the world. Be in the adventure, not posting about the adventure.

Remember, the things you love the most—think children—deserve the most time.

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